Flying Scotland to save time and see more is less complicated than most people think and the geography is ideally suited to the idea. You already know how stunning our landscape is without me resorting to well fingered clichés, that's why you are researching a trip, right? If you can put a number on the view from the ground then you can easily square it when viewed from a small aeroplane at just a few thousand feet. The same lochs and mountains that make your eyes go all misty while flooding your soul with tranquil beauty also make road travel a bit of a pain. The thread of tarmac clings to the narrowest of ledges between the neck cracking rise of one and the chill, dark depths of the other, forcing many more miles then the route the eagles are flying.
Scotland is a small country, so in a straight line nothing is particularly far from anything else, but there are no straight lines. This fact makes for a motorcyclist's dream and a Sunday driver's delight, but if you want to get somewhere or make the most of your holiday you need to be comfortable with a lot of time in the car, especially in the Western highlands.
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The main airports will be familiar to everyone, probably even to those who have never visited Scotland before. Edinburgh, Glasgow Prestwick and Aberdeen are the main gateways and hubs for flying within Scotland and to international destinations. It may come as a surprise to know that there are also regular schedules flights to Inverness, Dundee, Campbelltown, Islay, Sumburugh, Fair Isle, Kirkwall, Wick, Stornoway, Barra, Tiree, Coll and Colonsay. The Shetland Isles inter island air service also flies from Tingwall to Foula, Out Skerries and Papa Stour. The shortest commercial flight in the world is the service from Westray to Papa Westray and has a DVT busting duration of 90 seconds. There are sometimes deals and goodies to be had on this trip such as a certificate saying you've done it or a limited edition whisky. Unless you live on the island it is more of a bucket list experience than a major tourist hotspot.
However you choose to travel you will be surrounded by world class views and sometimes it is the perfect thing to sit back and soak it in. You can do so much more by air while enjoying a completely different perspective. In fairness many of the routes do not fly every day, but with a little thought and planning there are some cool trips to be had. Loganiar have started offering "adventure days" on routes that hop out and back in a day. Cycling or watersports on the beautiful beaches on the most westerly isle in the Hebrides, Golf on the Campbeltown peninsula or shopping for tweed in Harris, something for all tastes.
Some routes benefit from subsidy under Scottish government schemes such as the Public Service Obligation Contract. As the contract is due for renewal in May this year (2018) prices and operators may change so there may be new deals to look out for.
Routes to the islands in particular benefit as flights are literally the life support for communities. Population has been in decline in many areas , often due to schools closing and children being unable to travel home at weekends, that is changing now and communities are growing once more thanks to affordable flights.
For more information to help you find the best fit for you flying Scotland, check out some of the operators websites, Loganair, British Airways, Hebridean Air and Eastern Airways. For full disclosure none of these are paid or affiliate links and do not amount to a recommendation. check them out and enjoy your trip.