for other counties
Booking a Hot Air Balloon Flight
The following notes are intended for UK consumers
new to booking Hot Air Balloon flights.
As these are often bought online as gifts for others
we include cautions about buying online and thoughts
about the flexibility of Gift Experience Vouchers.
For advice about specific aspects of Hot Air Ballooning,
find a long-established and experienced operator
to ask personally. There are many excellent Hot
Air Balloon flight providers with long-standing
reputations and word-of-mouth referrals. Some of
these also operate flights for the same Experience
Day companies we recommend and can provide personal
- Safety of payment.
This is always an important consideration, especially
when paying online. Make sure that you recognise
and trust the party you are paying and they way
they handle your credit card information. When
paying for ballooning experiences online we prefer
to trust the larger Experience Day Companies'
payment security systems. Always make
sure that you are entering ordering information
into a secure form (with the little padlock
or similar indication appearing in your browser).
If you are not sure about the security of a website
- however attractive it looks, be careful. Consider
another means of payment. Investigate buying the
same/similar product from a well-known and trusted
- Flexibility of
product. We don't like to say
this (as balloon rides are great fun !), but as
they can also be expensive, are you SURE your
friend/relative wants to fly in a hot air balloon
- as opposed to, for example, drive a fast car
or enjoy a water-related day ? Sometimes it is
difficult to think of gift ideas and Hot Air Balloon
websites include great photos. However, even if
you love the idea, what if the person you have
in mind is (or maybe) pregnant, is trying to get
pregnant, is scared of flying, is scared of heights,
has back or cardiac problems so wouldn’t
want to risk it, is concerned about being over
the weight restrictions, is not confident of being
physically able to get into the basket, or has
some other reservation about flying in a hot air
Hot Air Balloon rides can be selected when redeeming
many widely available flexible Experience-Day
Gift Certificates - perhaps a safer option if
buying for someone else.
- Flexibility of
location. "Buy Local"
usually means "Fly Local".
Why restrict yourself or your loved-one ? Balloon
Flights can be fairly pricey so it's well-worth
a drive across a few counties or further - if
that is the passenger’s preference. Some
of the larger Hot Air Balloon companies
offer an excellent choice of take-off locations
across a wide area. Experience Day operators generally
offer a wide range of flight operators and locations
Flexibility of use of the voucher is worth checking
- Quality of Experience
and Safety. Very Important.
It stands to reason that the more
experience the pilot has, the safer the passengers
are likely to be. Everything else
may be great - website, commemorative caps and
T-shirts, even champagne, but safety is most important.
A pilot and crew with many years of commercial
ballooning experience helps.
Meeting the legal requirements to operate is an
absolute necessity, and the bare minimum.
For your own peace of mind, also consider the
following points before entrusting your friend/s
For how many years has
the company you are buying a voucher from
been carrying fare-paying passengers and
how many such passengers has it flown
in that time ? How many commercial flights
have they logged ?
Have they been recommended to you personally
by any of their previous fare-paying passengers
For how many years has the pilot who
will be in control of your flight been
flying commercially (as opposed to just
as a private pilot) ?
Vouchers / Terms of Flight
It is advisable to check the Terms and Conditions
associated with any flight voucher/deal before
paying. Sometimes the voucher is valid from a
specific date – for a limited period of
time only and if it isn’t used within that
time your money is spent and no-one is obliged
to provide you with a flight. Especially if you
are buying direct from a Hot Air Balloon flight operator (so have less
flexibility to start with), do check these terms
carefully before you buy - as there might
not be much, if any, advantage in purchasing the
voucher long before you hope to use it. Instead,
it may be better to secure a subject-to-weather
flying date first. If possible, ask the company
by email so that you automatically have a record
of what they said and can refer back to it later.
It's unlikely, but what if something goes wrong
Unfortunately incidents occur occasionally.
If they result in any form of loss or injury you
may choose to pursue the matter. Organizations
that are large enough to be able to do so may
handle some situations internally to offer a resolution
that is satisfactory to you and so helps to preserve
their established reputation. This may not always
be possible, especially in the cases of smaller
companies who do not have the assets to pay you
anything without claiming on an insurance policy.
A company may choose to protect its clients with
higher-value insurance, or to purchase the absolute
minimum necessary. If you are concerned about
insurance cover, ask about it before buying your
flight voucher(s) and/or check any of your own
policies that might cover you personally - a policy that includes outdoor/adventure sports, for example.
- How much to spend
Although we’ve recommended caution about
paying online, the internet is a fantastic
place to research the best deals. There
are many Experience Day companies operating in
the UK. There are also some large reputable Hot
Air Balloon Companies, as well as many smaller
Don’t just look at local advertising
(which is what they want you to do) !
Instead, research the best deals !
seen some Hot Air Balloon flights available for
less than £100. We’ve also seen Experience
Day companies offering great deals – such
as a free Spa Days when you buy a Hot Air Balloon
flight or similar. So shop around for your
personal “best combination” of peace-of-mind
and price. Keep in mind that advertising/marketing
materials by themselves reflect how much time
and effort has been spent on selling to you, not
how experienced the pilot is, or how well they
will manage your overall experience. Ask some
Suggestions above are based on our
observations and experience. They are also common
sense. Finding the best deal can be great fun, and
remember that established companies with great safety
records will be delighted to tell you all about
Professional operators are only too pleased to
reassure enquirers with details of their substantial
flying experience, recommendations, appropriate
insurance, and so on.
They'll be glad you asked.
We wish you
a fantastic experience, Happy Hot Air Ballooning