Our Response to COVID-19
Updated 15 June 2020
2020 has been anything but normal so far. We are staying on our toes and adapting to the situation to meet two simple goals: 1) reduce the transmission and impact of COVID in the world, and 2) still be in business and around to operate in 2021.
If you find out that you have tested positive for the coronavirus, please let us know immediately and your flight will be cancelled with no cost or obligations. Or if you think you have had a likely exposure to COVID-19 or have symptoms which you think might be COVID-19, your flight will be cancelled with no cost or obligations.
Ballooning is an intimate activity as all involved are close to one another during certain aspects of the experience: while flying in the basket, in the chase vehicle, and during launch/landing phases. The safety of the passengers, crew, pilot, land owners, spectators, and the general public has always been our top concern. It still is. Safety to us means reducing the inherent risks of our activity. Now, that also includes reducing the transmission of COVID-19. We have shifted our entire business structure for 2020 to a private party flight format. We have used a ‘shared basket’ format for almost two decades since the inception of the company. We have also made some detailed changes in the areas of check-in procedures, flight operations, passenger transport/logistics, cleaning procedures, post-flight celebrations, and with more leniency with our cancellation policy.
New Flight Structure for 2020:
-All flights now (15 June 2020) through 30 September 2020 are being scheduled as private basket experiences. Only your party will be on board the balloon (and a pilot of course).
-We’re still accepting bookings for October in a shared basket format. That structure is likely to change to a private basket format, too. If so, passengers will be offered private baskets at the determined rate.
-Our cancellation policy has always been no penalties as long as any cancellations come prior to 48-hours before a flight. That is still our policy with one major exception – if any passenger discovers they have COVID, feels that they have contracted COVID, have had high or likely exposure to a COVID positive individual, have symptoms of COVID or other respiratory illness, they can cancel at any time with OUT any financial penalty. This policy has been enacted for the safety of everyone. We implore all passengers to use this new addition to our policy. We also ask you to be respectful and not abuse it simply because you don’t feel like flying or changed your mind. If you are sick, we don’t want you near anyone else – including our team.
Procedural Changes of Note as of 15 June 2020:
-Check-in procedures will include the normal signing of our waiver and now a COVID questionnaire. We’re not looking for your private medical history, just some basic info surrounding your possible exposure to COVID. Again, there will be phases of the experience where 6’ of distance is simply not attainable.
-we will be taking and recording temperatures of our pilots, crew, and passengers with non-contact, forehead scanning thermometers
-We will be requiring the use of face coverings and providing them for all passengers. They will be a neck gaiter/buff-style face covering that does not restrict breathing and cannot fall off of the passenger or pilot in flight. These are recommended for the entire experience from start to finish as there are a lot of moving people and parts of a balloon flight. They will be required in the chase vehicle, in the basket, and whenever we are on any launch sites and landing locations. They are custom logoed and yours to keep.
-hand sanitizer will be available and required for passengers and crew members before entering the van or the basket
-seating capacities have been reduced by the DOT so we ask that ask you to leave at least one (1) row of seats empty between your party and our crew while in the chase van – preferably more as the van has seating for 15.
-heavy touch surfaces of chase van, chase truck, and balloon basket will be wiped down and sanitized after each flight
-Our post flight celebration will be modified – we’ll still be providing champagne and/or non-alcoholic sparkling cider but won’t be serving our normal food in the field, which is cheese and chocolates from communal plates. We haven’t decided for sure but we’re strongly considering concluding the flight by sending your private party home with small gift basket to include the bubbly of course along with some commemorative champagne flutes, souvenir photo frame with gold embossing, and a few food treats.
If you are comfortable with our procedures this year, we’d love to take you flying. If this isn’t how you envisioned your balloon flight, we get it. Please look us up in the 2021 season when we HOPE the world is a little more normal and we can get back to our regularly scheduled programming.
In closing, information, safety recommendations, and best practices for our industry are changing rapidly – sometimes weekly or even daily. Please note that we may have to change our procedure, safety protocols, or flight process at any time this season with very little notice. Last minute cancellations are a possibility. We’re used to doing this surrounding bad weather, not so much for the current state of affairs. Please know we’re making the best and safest choices for all involved including passengers who trust us with their safety, our team, launch site/landing site owners, and spectators in the community. As has always been our policy, we don’t take deposits from our passengers in advance of our flights – just credit card details over our secure booking site. If your flight has to be cancelled for some reason(s) out of our control, we will all be disappointed and you will of course be under no financial obligation to our company. Thank you for understanding any changes that are not desirable or beyond our control.
We look forward to flying with you!