Tips for flying with a Scottish Terrier

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Reader Wendy recently left a helpful comment for all you holiday travellers:

Hello! My Scottie has travelled all over with me and we’ve crossed the U.S. several times. Generally we fly – he’s 25lbs and TALL for a scotty, but he fits in a sherpa bag and sleeps like a baby. I only put him in the bag JUST before we went to bed to break him into it, and once he got used to it he never seemed to mind and curls right up to sleep.

DO take your Scottie around town and on drives with it both zipped, and partially zipped to help him/her learn not to try to escape, to relax, and to mind you. I carted Haggis through department stores and walking down busy streets in the bag so he got used to it. It ultimately allows you to unzip the top a bit and let them pop a head out while in the terminal. I’ve found security will leave me alone as long as he’s on my shoulder in the bag, lap, or riding on top of my four wheeled suitcase. DO try to get one that has a side that can be zipped or velcroed shut. Often planes have vents at the floor level and it’s cold, as well as stressful.

DO research the plane before you book the flight to make sure it does not have a smaller underseat storage area if you are flying coach (airlines will always tell you the plane model). Middle seats, sadly, are often your safest bet for ensuring there’s good space under the seat and not some silly box/retrofitted electronics. Aisle and window are OFTEN much smaller.

If I have a layover, I book through an airport like Dallas, as opposed to Denver, where you have to take a LONG train ride to get to the outside for a potty break. Also, if all else fails a benadryl (check with your vet first) will make them sleepy and relaxed. Usually the altitude/cabin pressurization will do that as well, it’s the equivalent of 8000 feet in most planes and high altitudes tend to make people (and dogs) sleepy. Haggis is a traveling champ, and usually gets a ton of attention while traveling. He’s such a ham, he now loves to fly and gets excited when we break out the sherpa bag!

And of course, when it comes to travelling, there’s no one like the Scottie Tales Scottish Terriers, Boone and Kenzie.

Check out Sherpa bags on Amazon.com

37 thoughts on “Tips for flying with a Scottish Terrier

  1. I thought for a moment this was my bag!!! We too travel extensively with our Pippi, LOL we just travel extensively. She also loves her Sherpa. She will curl up in it whenever she can.

    We use the most simple Sherpa brand carrier, in large, and even when an airline requires the med size we never have an issue.

  2. Question regarding airline’s guidlines: I thought the dog had to make a complete circle within the carry tote without struggle or being inhibited by the sides? I don’t see how a Scottie can do that in the Sherpa bag. Please let me know how you were able to check-in or which airlines don’t care. And how did you go through security. I’d much rather take Tartan with for Christmas travels than leave him with a friend. Thanks.

    1. Hi there! Yes, they are supposed to be able to turn around, and technically haggis probably could if he panicked. However, I will tell you in all my travels, NO ONE at security has ever checked or questioned me once. Not once. They don’t even notice you have a dog, 9 times out of 10!! I kept expecting the first time I flew, that someone at the front desk, security, or gate would check. No one has ever even bothered to look. When you go through security, you unzip the bag, take them out (and collar off, if you don’t want to be wanded) and walk through like you would normally. when the bag comes out the other side on the conveyer belt, pop them back in and zip them up. Generally at the gate someone will notice you have a dog and check to see that you paid extra for the ticket, but several times I have flown and no one ever checked the manifest. Not at the gate, not in the plane. I used to travel for a living 3-4 times a week, so I’m a bit of a plane pro. I’ve also traveled enough that I’ve chatted and sat with dog owners on a lot of flights, and we all have had the same experience. My biggest piece of advice is to look like you know what you’re doing everywhere you go in the airport, carry yourself and your dog with confidence, and you’ll get left alone and it will be over before you know it. Generally TSA is completely confused by dogs, and when I have asked what to do they stare at me blankly and expect ME to know. Don’t ask for help, advice, etc., just be casual and enjoy bringing your kid along. I do also recommend a four wheeled suitcase like the one pictured, it lets me wheel his heavy square-shaped bottom around instead of carrying him on my shoulder!

  3. Hi Shawnay,

    I think that is what Sherpa recommends as a guideline for the right size of bag for your dog. When we’ve flown with dogs which is only twice they didn’t seem to inspect the bag to see how well it “fit” the dog, just that it has to fit under the seat. One of those times was International and we found (at that time & our route) that Delta was the only airline that would allow us to bring Teagan in cabin – I’ve heard that Virgin does too. They took her away and we picked her up again at the plane (not sure what they did exactly in the meantime). Domestically I believe it was Northwest, and for security you take the dog out and carry them through the metal detector and the bag goes through the machine. Good luck, I hope it works out for you!! BTW this is great advice & Haggis looks like a happy Traveller! Thanks, Wendy!

  4. Thank you Teagan’s mum for answering. I measured Tartan and am afraid he’s too big for the Sherpa bags that American Airlines will accept. I could cram him in which he will find unacceptable. Plus Tartan weighs over 30 lbs so…I don’t want to check him as baggage. Last Christmas, I did that and he came out groggy and looking a little lethargic. He’s 7 now so I don’t want to put him through it just because I want him to be with me for Christmas.

    1. Hmm yes I should mention that Teagan is very small and weighs about 19 lbs. She’s a good traveller but the vet had given us a mild sedative for her. I wouldn’t want to check her either – and by the way it was also cheaper to bring her hand luggage than in the hold.

  5. Oop! Two more thoughts – it was asked about airlines. I’ve flown with Haggis on United (which has a lot of old planes) and Continental almost exclusively. United is a little scary, frankly, and it’s more of a crap shoot as to whether you will get a retrofitted electronics box in your row or under your seat. That said, I’m SURE a flight attendent would re-seat you if you did — I just didn’t want to bother with the drama. A few times I booked and used miles for a first class upgrade – which guarantees a larger underseat area and in general less drama. If you can swing it financially or with miles, it’s definitely helpful and put me more at ease the first few times I flew. I’ve also only taken Haggis on domestic flights, where there is significantly less scrutiny. Haggis IS 25 lbs, but pretty tall and leggy. he is pretty tight in a large sherpa bag, as you can probably see, but I just myself couldn’t stomach checking him. I don’t trust those handlers for love nor money, and I’d rather cram him in a bag and KNOW he’s ok, myself =) Good luck, and email if you have any more questions!

    1. Hi Wendy, Thanks so much I got a lot out of your scottie travel info. I’m freaking out because my scottie won’t fit into the 18 inch sherpa bag, and United said NO DOGS allowed in first class. I don’t understand how you got into first class with a dog! I’m just worried as they say 18 inches is the longest bag you can use. Did you use the large one and no one checked? Thanks in advance. Best, Debbie NJ

      1. Hello Debbie!

        Oh wow, yeah that actually makes me laugh about the no first class issue! I know for certain I flew with haggis first class at least four times in and out of Houston, but that was right around the time of the merger with continental and it’s possible they were still operating under continental policy and not United.

        I absolutely think you are fine to fly with the large bag, in all the trips I’ve made, no one has ever even checked my paperwork, let alone the size of my bag on United. Most of my recent flights have been united flights operating out of Denver. I doubt anyone would have a measuring tape on hand, and they’re so distracted. I would suggest that you don’t look at your bag, make a big deal out of having a dog, or draw attention to yourself during boarding. That will definitely help.

        Lastly, I’ve broken SO many rules when flying. I bring my guitar on intentionally in a soft case so that they won’t make me check it, even though it’s oversize. I’m just sweet as pie to the attendants and while I’ve been scolded a few times, they’ve never turned me away for breaking them. I think the worst that could possibly happen on United is that you get a lecture on your bag being a bit too big =)

        Best to you too, and enjoy your flying!! =)

        Wendy

        1. Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply! Yes, I thought perhaps it was around the merger as in my mind things have gotton so much worse since United bought Continental. Ugh, that’s another story. We travelled in Europe recently and they screwed the flights up so bad from London to Italy we almost didn’t get there.

          Your advice is wonderful, and I will buy the larger Sherpa bag and go with it. My Mo Mo is soooo well behaved and quiet, I think she will be fine. It’s only a flight from NJ to Florida, so it’s a very short flight.

          Thanks again! Where do you live?

  6. Wow, when I started this blog, I never guessed the questions could get so specific. Some time over the next few days, I’ll post your question on the home page. I’ve also discovered over the years that a Scottie News reader somewhere out there will likely possess this knowledge.

  7. Window Seat: 19″L x 14″W x 8.25″H
    Middle Seat: 19″L x 19″W x 8.25″H
    Aisle Seat: 19″L x 14″W x 8.25″H

    =)

  8. Hi there! No worries about going through the scanner, it’s really pretty simple, whether it’s an airjet/explosive scanner or a regular metal detector. Just take the collar off and your pup out of the bag. Send the collar and bag through with the other baggage, and carry your pup into or through the scanner with you, exactly as you would with a baby. This part kind of stinks if you’ve made the trip with a not-so-confident scotty (my other scotty female is a rescue and more skittish) – standing for five minutes waiting to walk through the scanner with a fat squirming scottie can sometimes be a little tiresome. But walk with confidence and TSA will never question you, generally I get smiles and laughter more than anything. Good luck and happy travels!

  9. I’d like to thank for the efforts you’ve put in posting this site.

    I am looking to see otherwebsite post from you in the future.
    plz also excuse my bad english as its not my first language.

  10. As far as scotties on the plane, I miss living in the US because in Australia, you have to put them in the cargo hold. They aren’t allowed in the cabin as they are back home. I agree with the posts supporting taking them on…even if they’re a bit crowded, I know they’re safe with me. (For one, it is a tighter squeeze, but he’s fine. Put it this way, if he could tell me, I am certain his anxiety would be far worse being separated from “the pack” than being a tighter fit than his brother in the carrier). Agree re: put them in the carrier and drive around/ tote around in/outside, etc so they get used to it. I can’t recall the brand of our carrier, but it looks like a steward’s bag and was made of black mesh and the handle/wheels detached so a soft bag slid under the seat…black/brindle dog inside was barely visible, except children always saw them and that made me laugh. I agree re: no one ever cared or checked anything about the extra fee paid, or the size of the dog, etc…TSA didn’t bat an eyelash about anything…I’m not sure the flight attendant even knew we had them under the seats. I do think the little half-pill sedative was helpful if the flight was longer, say, over 5h. And good advice re: Denver–very long distance to get outside! Also, we’d exhaust them with walking/playing before any flight so they were tired out. When we moved to Australia, we did retain a professional pet moving service to facilitate flying them from San Francisco to Sydney. Expensive, but I felt so much better with the additional contact and check in–and knowing another person whom I’d met was filling the role I could not. Believe me, international moving and Australian quarantine made me appreciate how comparatively easy domestic flights in the US with smaller dogs can be!

  11. Hello Scottie lovers! I have a Scottie (Violet), never traveled with her before. I exclusively fly JetBlue from ny to palm beach 2 1/2 hours. Really worried about their size restrictions. Does anyone fly JetBlue with your Scoottie? Should I be worried?
    She’s roughly 20 lbs on a good day sometimes 22.
    Not sure if I should buy the medium sherpa to get closer to th JB size restriction…. It may be a little tight. Advise pleeaaaaaaese. Thanks!!
    JetBlue info:
    A carrier that does not exceed 17″L (43.18 cm) x 12.5″W (31.75 cm) x 8.5″H (21.59 cm). Your pet must be able to stand up and move around in the carrier with ease
    Combined weight of your pet and carrier may not exceed 20 pounds

    Sherpa sizes
    Medium – 18″x11″x11″- 16lbs
    Large – 20″ x 11.75″ x 12″ -22lbs

      1. Thanks yes I read the entire thread above, I’m just concerned and wanted to know if anyone has experience with JetBlue and Scottie’s specifically?

        1. Hi Athena,
          curious how it went. I’m about to fly jetful to turks and caicos and my little savanna is about the same size as your little violate.
          i’m a bit nervous

          thanks

  12. HI,
    Im hoping someone can help me out… Im looking to take my Scottie to Europe with me. She’s on the “fluffier” side weighing in at 27 lbs. She fits snugly in the large Sherpa bag which is Large – 20″ x 11.75″ x 12″ -22lbs. When I called the airline (Im traveling internationally) and gave them the type of plane I would travel they said they only allowed dogs that could fit in a kennel 12L x 14W x 10H which is really small… and that’s even me asking for seat dimensions for Economy Plus. How are you guys with the large Sherpa bags handling getting the bag under your seats?

  13. Hi Crystal! So surprised you can fly int’l with a carry-on dog of any kind! (I’m sure you have, but be sure you check with the int’l quarantine body wherever you’re going–just in case the airline isn’t the same as int’l regulations. You’d be so hassled if you got surprised at immigration. I couldn’t imagine anything worse, really–my dogs in international jail!) In general, I really doubt anyone will check, and if you are close, you’ll be fine. I’ve flown with one of our boys too big, technically. No one even looked at him, never mind checked him. Look for a carrier that can have wheels or handle or any hard bits detach. That will permit more comfort for your girl, the softer your bag can become, etc. As I’ve said before, if it’s a long flight, consider a tranquilizer when you see the vet for traveling certificates so she sleeps through it and is less “squeezed.” Happy travels! Post how you go with the carrier/ journey!

  14. Hi Kristi – So sorry I missed your response, thank you so much for the information. I guess I’m more wondering not about the bag but the ability to take a bag this size on an airplane. She barely fits into a bag thats 20 inches long and Delta was saying that the limit for an international fight is 10 inches. I dont think even the smallest Scotties could fit in a bag 10 inches long. I’m looking to see if anyone has been on a plane that allowed these bigger bags in the cabin? I’m thinking so because the dog shown in the picture is flying in cabin and Boone and Kenzie have flown internationally as well.

  15. Hello Crystal!

    Wheee! Boy, navigating Delta’s policies with them on the phone is pretty damn interesting. I called, and here’s what I found out. It totally depends on what flight you are taking and what partner you are working with. According to the rep I spoke with, their standard 19″ bag policy applies to all of THEIR flights – but it’s the connecting flights you have to worry about. KLM has a different policy than Air France for example. So the typical route I take to Budapest on Delta/KLM to see my sister would be fine for my scotty, but if I flew through Paris instead and used Delta/Air France it might not be.

    My advice would be to find the flight you want to take, and don’t book it until you’ve cleared the policy with their partners. You probably want to call the partners directly, it’ll be a little faster than the Delta rep trying to sort through their policies with you over the phone.

    So good news? 20″ is still fine for Delta flights and you got bad advice, according to the rep I spoke with. BUT any transfers may be suspect. Good luck honey!

  16. Oh, and P.S. — I know that some small jets do have smaller under-size compartments, and it sounds like that might be what you’re up against. But typically, anything that crosses the atlantic is a full size jet, so unless you’re up against that smaller under-size on a connecting flight while IN europe I’m not sure how it could be an issue. Personally, if it was me, I admit I’m pretty brave with my flying and I’d just show up with the dog anyway and hope they’d reseat me or make it work. One time I got stuck in a window seat and I put Haggis’ carrier crosswise under the seat and the bag stuck out of the underseat compartment and was in between my feet. I opened up a magazine and spread my stuff around and acted like a pro, they never even noticed. So, I personally think you could risk it.

  17. Hi, Thanks so much for the information Wendy! Hearing that is much more encouraging. It didn’t seem that the people I spoke with at Delta 100% knew about flying with dogs (its such an anomaly I guess I wouldn’t expect them to) and their site didn’t give too much information either. My plan is to fly direct out of NYC to Spain. Good point about the Delta vs other airline policies I’ll have to make sure when I book I don’t get on a partner airline that has more restrictive policies. Also with this plan Im going to avoid any smaller planes altogether and any quarantine. The thought of showing up with my pup to fly and then have them say she’s too big and I have to check her is terrifying…Or equally as bad international jail if I get stopped by immigration for some reason. She is perfectly content curled up quietly as long as its with me so as long as I actually get on the plane I’m confident it’ll be fine. I’ll let you guys know how it goes 🙂 I’m sure I go through this once I’ll be more comfortable about the whole thing especially since it sounds like in the whole process people don’t really know whats going on so if you just act cool they let you be. Thanks again so much and take care!

  18. Hi Wendy,

    We have a Scottie who weighs in at approximately 25lbs. Can you tell me what size and type Sherpa carried is in the picture on your site? I think our Scottie would be great on a plane and loved your article. THANKS, THANKS, THANKS!

  19. Hi Wendy,

    We have a Scottie who weighs in at approximately 25lbs. Can you tell me what size and type Sherpa carried is in the picture on your site? I think our Scottie would be great on a plane and loved your article. THANK YOU

  20. This is the greatest thread!!!! I’m late to this party and, Wendy, how old is your Haggis? I’m 8-1/2. Pretty set in my ways and have never flown. Do you, and other readers, think I can do it?

    Thanks!

  21. Hello! This traveling article is very helpful. Please post the style, make, model of the carrier. Id like to get the same one that is featured in the photo. My handsome boy is 21 lbs. Would love to take him with me next trip. thank you Cindy

  22. I am flying to Hawaii and everywhere I keep looking for flights with my scotty I run into 20 Lb limit on cabin flights. Juliet weighs around 25 lbs and the kind of carrier they list I am afraid I will have to send her cargo and I do not want to do that. If the gentleman who travels everywhere with his scotty reads this and would give me information on the airline he uses I would forever be grateful.

  23. Thank you for the great discussion about flying with you scottie. I have only done this once with Audry and she was a puppy at the time and in a very small bag. No one noticed she was in the bag and she slept on the short fight from San Diego to Phoenix. Like several others I have been concerned that 1) few airlines permit dogs in the cabin and if they do it is one per flight, 2) a full grown Scottie needs a large sherpa bag and it is larger than what airline say they will accept. Glad to hear they don’t really check.

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