What to look out for when buying tickets

There are a lot of balloon companies and experience agencies available. It can be difficult to distinguish a solid company from so-called gold-diggers, or even fakes. Choosing can be indeed difficult, unless you have a recommendation from your friends, who have already been on a balloon flight.

You can get a rough image of the soundness of a company and quality of the experience even from publicly accessible information. You just need to know what to ask for and what to check:

  • Does the declared history and experience of the company match the data in commercial registry?
  • You can search the flight registry of Office for civil aviation for the information about the company's balloons – whether the company is the owner of the balloons, or if it only operates them. Some companies operate advertisement balloons belonging to the advertising company. In such a case advertisement flights and events are first on the list of importance, while sightseeing flights are only secondary. This can influence the date of the flights and bring problems during planning. Balloons belonging to leasing companies usually mean unstable financial background of the company and often indicate beginning companies.
  • Every balloon must be insured against any damage on any person, including passengers. Check, whether there exists a valid insurance certificate and whether the number of insured places matches the capacity of the basket.
  • Balloon age – an older date of production does not necessarily mean that the balloon isn't all right. However, if the balloons were made before the company was founded, it means that the company is renewing its balloons second hand. It says something about the company itself, rather than about the balloons, which have to go through a full service every year.
  • How large basket will you fly in, i.e. how many more passengers will fly with you? There is a large difference between the experience of private flying with 3-5 people and an event with 12-18 other passengers. You will be surrounded by crowd of other passengers and their relatives and friends, which also means there is a lot smaller chance that the pilot will personally attend to you, or answer all of your questions. At the same time, large balloons have a minimum amount of passengers, so that you would have to wait for the basket to get full and it will be more difficult to agree on a date of flight.
  • Is transport to and from the place of flight included in the price of the ticket? Does the company have large enough car to fit it?
  • How long is the flight ticket valid?
  • Is the company satisfied with a small deposit, and paying the rest just before the flight, or does it require full payment without a compromise?
  • How many locations of take off can you choose from?
  • If there is not enough passengers for the basket, does the date of flight move or is occupation of the basket issue of the company and doesn't affect you?
  • Are you expected to help with the preparations before the flight and with the packing up after the flight, or will there be enough crew so that you will be able to take pictures and videos all day?
  • Professional balloon company will not promise you an exact route of the flight. That always depends on the current direction and strength of the wind. Nor will they guarantee you exact date of the flight beforehand, since changing the date is very common, due to adverse weather conditions. Equally, it is not possible to promise a flight during the day due to so-called thermal winds (especially during the main season). Due to safety, it is possible to fly only 2 hours after the sun dawn and 2 hours before the sun set (see also chapter weather).
  • Is balloon flying their main job description, or do they have another job and fly only when they are free?

We wish you a lucky choice and really successfull experience!