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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 pre-sales advice.

Important Considerations

  1. 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 source.
  2. 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 balloon ?
    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.
  3. 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 too.
    Flexibility of use of the voucher is worth checking before buying.
  4. 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 or family:


    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) ?

  5. Terms of Use of 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.
  6. Insurance.
    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.
  7. 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 ones.

    Don’t just look at local advertising (which is what they want you to do) !

    Instead, research the best deals !

    We have 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 questions.

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 them !

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 !!!


Check before Booking

Have you heard of the company before ?

How long have they been operating ?

How flexible is the ticket ?

Are you restricted to one small area of the UK ... or can you choose from sites Nationwide ?

For how many years has your pilot been flying commercially ?

... Have a safe flight !


Can I fly from all these places ? : What is a "Balloon Glow" : Ballooning in USA : Terms