Flying with dogs in the UK

The Skybus
The Skybus prepares for take-off

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. 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.

Lands End Airport, complete with woodburner
Lands’ End Airport, complete with woodburner!

The beautiful Isles of Scilly lay 30 miles off the coast of Cornwall. With the Skybus, you can get 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. It’s small and efficient with a lovely outdoor seating area, cute café, friendly staff and even a wood burner!

Couple onboard tiny Skybus plane
All aboard the Skybus!

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 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. However, I have heard of Newfoundlands using the Skybus before so as long as you pre-book your dog’s travel, you shouldn’t have any issues.

After checking in and watching a short safety video, it was time to board the plane. Ernie and I were invited to go first. As he is not normally crated, I made sure he was secure before taking a seat beside him. Ernie could see what was going on at all times, which was great. I could even stroke him and slip a few treats through the side of the crate.

Ernie in his crate on the Skybus
Ernie in his crate onboard

I must admit, Ernie wasn’t particularly keen on being in “dog jail”. And he was less than impressed 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.

I don’t think Ernie will become a frequent flyer any time soon, but the journey literally flew by. The views from the plane were also fantastic.

View from the Skybus
Our view from the Skybus

If you plan to travel at peak times, book your flight as early as possible because only two small or one large dog 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 more pet-friendly things to do in the Scillies, read my Ruff Guide to the Isles of Scilly. To find out more about the Skybus, click here.


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