Whether it’s by car, bus, train or ferry, we all love to travel with our four-legged friends – but how many of us Brits have actually taken their dog on a plane?
Unlike the USA, where pets are a common sight at airports, many European airlines only allow animals in the hold and there is no way I’d subject Ernie to that. So when I heard the Isles of Scilly Skybus lets you fly with your dog by your side, I immediately started planning a trip.
The beautiful Isles of Scilly lay 30 miles off the coast of Cornwall and the Skybus can get you there in as little as 15 minutes from the mainland. It flies from Lands’ End, Newquay and Exeter but if you’re travelling with a dog, you’ll have to head to Lands’ End or Newquay. We opted for Lands’ End because it has the shortest journey time.
Although a little bit out of the way, it’s well worth the effort to get to Lands’ End. It is actually the nicest airport I’ve ever been to – small and efficient with a lovely outdoor seating area, cute café, friendly staff and even a wood burner!
When I booked our flights, I had to request a place for Ernie and state his size. The Twin Otter aircraft are all equipped with a large RSPCA-approved crate but as space is rather limited on the eight-seater planes, there are strict rules about weight. Ernie is only 9kg and had to jump on the luggage scales to prove it – but I have heard of Newfoundlands using the Skybus before so as long as you pre-book your dog’s travel, you shouldn’t have a problem.
After checking in and watching a short safety video, it was soon time to board the plane and Ernie and I were invited to go first. As he is not normally crated, I chose to carry him up to the crate and make sure he was secure before taking a seat right beside him. Ernie could see what was going on at all times and I could even stroke him and slip a few treats through the side of the crate.
I must say, Ernie wasn’t particularly keen on being in “dog jail” – even less so when the engines started up and the vibrations kicked in. But the 15-minute flight to the Isles of Scilly versus the 2hr 45min boat ride was a no-brainer – and gave him a taste of the “jetpet” lifestyle! I don’t think Ernie will become a frequent flyer any time soon, but the journey literally flew by and the views were fantastic.
If you’re planning to travel at peak times, I’d advise booking your flight as early as possible because only two small dogs or one large can travel at a time. Indeed, we saw at least three others at the airport when we arrived for our flight in September.
Single Skybus fares start from £80 per adult and it costs an extra £40 to take your dog. For pet-friendly ideas and inspiration about what to do on the Isles of Scilly, read my Ruff Guide here. To find out more about the Skybus, click here.