Balloon Flight FAQ
General Flight FAQ
What time are your flights?
Flights only occur at two times of the day: sunrise and sunset. It's safe for balloons to fly just after sunrise and just prior to sunset so that is when we fly. So the flight times will change based on the length of the day. The exact flight times are shown on our booking calendar when making a reservation. To get an approximation of these times you may look here .
How does it work if the weather is bad?
We will contact you immediately if we make a no-go decision. At that time we will offer you the soonest alternative flight with space available. If there isn't an option that works for you, then we simply cancel your booking and there is no charge. We don't take any money during the booking process so there is no money to refund.
What is the cancellation policy?
As a boutique aviation experience with limited availability, we expect and need passengers to show up on time for scheduled flight bookings.
Our cancellation policy goes into effect 48-hours prior to your scheduled flight time. You are welcome to make ANY changes to or cancel your reservation BEFORE this time with no penalty or charges of any kind.
If at any time the pilot or Above Reality Inc. cancels the flight for reasons of safety, weather or otherwise, the passengers do not pay for the flight.
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
Inside the 48-hour pre-flight window, ANY changes, cancellations or no-shows, will result in charges to the card on file at booking in the following manner:
- Cancellation/change notification received 48-24 hours prior to scheduled flight time 50% of full fare charged.
- Cancellation/change notification received less than 24 hours prior to scheduled flight time: 100% of full fare charged.
- Gift certificate holders will simply forfeit their certificate with any cancellations inside of 24-hours or have a partial balance if cancelled between 48-24 hours prior to scheduled flight time.
- Please email email@example.com if you need to cancel and include your Order Number and/or last name the reservation is under.
How long is the flight?
We will be in the air for about an hour. Since we are working with numerous dynamic variables, sometimes the flight duration may be longer than an hour 75-90 minutes) or sometimes it may be slightly under an hour. It's quite rare for us to fly for less than 50 minutes. The majority of our flights are approximately 60 minutes.
What time will we be done?
You will be back to your car where we met after about 3-4 hours from the time we met. Always plan on the long end of this window if you are making plans reservations for dinner, returning airline flight bookings, or baby/dog sitters.
How safe is ballooning?
All of our pilots are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They have had extensive training and rank safety as the highest priority. You can look at each of their bios on our Crew page. Their choice to fly or not to fly is based mostly on the weather but also includes other factors. If they do not feel it is safe to fly then the flight will be cancelled. All of our balloons are inspected by FAA maintenance facilities at scheduled intervals. In addition, balloons will be inspected by the pilot before every flight.
Are there seats?
No. All passengers will stand for the duration of the flight. Passengers will need to be in physical condition that permits them to stand on their own as well as climb in and out of the basket.
Is there a minimum number of passengers required?
Yes, we do need to have a minimum of four (4) passengers booked for a given flight slot to go out for a flight. You don't personally need to book four passengers, we just need four in total. The scenario where we need to cancel or reschedule a flight due to insufficient passengers is rare and usually occurs less than a handful of times a year - usually only in the early part of the season or at some quirky time during the season. We would let you know this in advance and offer you another flight window.
How many people are on the flight?
All flights in 2020 are private baskets. It will be your party exclusively and a pilot.
Our balloons baskets are designed and purchased with safety, passenger comfort, and stability in mind. We operate 3 different sizes (small, medium, and large if you will) each capable of carrying different weights and configurations of passengers. Our smallest balloon accommodates 4+ passengers and our largest balloon accommodates 12+ passengers. Our larger balloons are partitioned as well as padded for your safety and comfort. We prefer to provide first-class caliber flight accommodations by opting NOT to load our baskets to their full capacity. In layman's terms, our largest balloon is rated by the manufacturer to carry significantly more people than we actually will put in it. This ensures that all passengers have more space than the industry standard.
Is it safe for passengers who are pregnant to fly in a balloon?
We are very good at what we do but there are too many variables in ballooning beyond our control that may pose a risk to mama and baby. If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, unfortunately we can not take you flying.
What are the general health requirements for a passenger to fly?
Passengers must be in good overall health with no major mobility problems or other issues with any part of their body but especially ankles, knees, hips, back, or neck.
Which flight is better, morning or afternoon?
It's really hard to say as both are spectacular. The best thing is to book your preference early in your visit and be open to both flight windows. This doubles your chances of rescheduling if Mother Nature throws us a curve ball.
How much of a deposit do I need to make a booking?
We don't take deposits. Nor do we charge booking fees. You'll need a credit card to hold your booking but we don't take any payment up from (unless you're buying a gift certificate for someone).
Is it scary?
Well there is no turbulence, no stomach dropping, no G-forces,, nor any roller coaster-type movements as we travel WITH the wind and NOT THROUGH the wind. The only significant movement or bumps you would feel would be on landing or before we have left the ground as the balloon stabilizes and gets buoyant.
I'm afraid of heights, can I still go flying?
Yes. We have had literally HUNDREDS (if not thousands) of people tell us they were afraid of heights before booking a flight. The fact of the matter is that it's highly probably (pun intended) that you're wrong. Many people mistakenly presume that they are "afraid of heights" when they are in fact afraid of edges. A fear of edges is just that, being afraid of the "edge" of something. This would be things like standing at the peak/edge of a roof, looking over a sheer cliff or drop-off, being on a glass-floored building, a suspension bridge, or window of a skyscraper. A balloon basket doesn't have an edge in the traditional sense due to the fact that the walls or sides of the basket come up to the waist or middle of the rib cage on most passengers. It's more like leaning on a bar or counter. Also, your eyes/brain don't really know how high you are since you're not attached to the ground as in all the other examples mentioned and therefore the brain has no basis for height reference perspective. Planes fly very high but that doesn't scare people as there is no "edge". Also, you can't just "fall out" as people often ask. In fact, when we fly skydivers, many of them have a difficult time when they are trying to get out! So we're not going to twist your arm to go flying, but we did want to make sure that you had all of the information available. We hope you'll trust our experience and join your loved one on a flight.
Can I get motion sickness?
No. The elements that create motion sickness are not present during balloon flights. You can leave your Dramamine, Bonine, meclizine, Reliefbands, or Transderm Scop patches at home. These items will not help and may even throw off your balance. You will not need them as we travel WITH the wind and not through or over it as you do on a boat or windy road. Trust us on this (it's not like we want you getting sick).
How much does it cost?
You may choose from several different flight options. Click here to see our balloon flight options and pricing.
Do you offer any discounts?
Discounts may not be combined. Passengers who would like the cash discount will still guarantee their flight using a credit card. You will simply just pay with cash at the end of flight instead of handing us your card to swipe.
We offer 3 discounts on balloon rides:
Cash (5%) - to redeem: simply bring the green stuff with you to your flight
Group (10%) - Groups are considered 8 passengers or more. This discount applies to adults only (not children) and we do NOT offer group discounts during October.
Military (15%) - We thank you for your service to our country whether you are active duty or retired. To receive this discount, simply inform your flight host of your service at the time of payment and a discount will be applied to your flight. This discount is offered to military member plus one guest. If you booked in 5 passengers total, 2 passengers would reflect a 15% discount and the remaining 3 passengers would be billed at regular price.
What is the child fare policy?
From May through September, for each accompanying adult, a child aged 8-17 may fly for $199. Due to high demand in October, children are welcome to fly at full fare but discounts are unavailable at that time.
How can I book a balloon ride?
1. Click this booking button and enter the requested information. It takes most people less than 4 minutes to guarantee their place!
2. Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation email and details (don't forget to look in the SPAM folder).
When should I book my flight?
A) If you mean during which portion of your trip should you book for, it's always best to book for the first day of your visit to Vermont. This way, should the weather not cooperate, we have some flight slots in the next day or two to try and get you on another flight.
B) If you mean how far in advance should you book, the answer to that is as SOON as you know that you're visiting Vermont. We don't take any money upfront at the time of booking and our cancellation policy is 48 hours so your best bet to guarantee your place is to book sooner than later.
How can I buy a gift certificate?
Procrastinators need not worry! Just click here and fill out the required fields. You will receive an email immediately after completion with a voucher code and a certificate suitable for printing for the recipient (check your SPAM folder if you don't see it in 2 minutes).
After Booking/ Preflight FAQ
A confirmation email is sent automatically once a reservation is made. This email has ALL of the information both general and specific to your flight that you will need to prepare yourself for a safe and enjoyable flight. If you don't see that email, please check your SPAM folder. It was sent on the day you made the booking and will have the subject "Balloon Flight Details". Please take a moment to read this email as well as sharing it with other passengers on your booking.
The information below is more for the folks who are really curious about details before booking - please reference your email if you have already booked a flight.
Where do we meet?
We will meet at the front door of the Essex Resort and Spa at 70 Essex Way, Essex, Vermont 05452. You may click here for a map. Remember, you are looking for our flight host and our van which will be parked at the front door of the resort.
Where will we launch from?
We have launch sites in Essex, Colchester, Milton, South Burlington, Jericho, Williston and other surrounding towns. Each day's launch will depend upon wind direction and other weather considerations.
What should I wear on the balloon ride?
The temperature in the balloon will be very similar to the temperature on the ground. We do NOT typically go to altitudes where the temperatures are "really cold" as people may mistakenly presume.
Boots or sneakers are required.
A hat of some type is recommended to provide a layer of protection between your head and the radiant heat emitted from the burners (a visor won't help in this case).
Tank tops or sleeveless shirts are NOT recommended as these do not offer any protection for the parts of your body most likely to feel the heat from the burner. The simplest way to dress is in layers of cotton. You can always remove a layer but it is tough to add one that you don't have.
Whether you choose shorts or pants is up to you, just remember we may find ourselves in a variety of landing sites from short, well-manicured lawns to fields with overgrown brush, or otherwise.
Dresses and skirts are strongly discouraged (unless you are getting married in-flight, then feel free to wear your gown).
Weddings: Feel free to wear your wedding attire, including gown, just realize that you will be wearing it on an outdoor, adventure activity where there are variables that we don't have control over (tall grass, prickers, mud, cow pies, just to name a few hazards). Boots or sneakers are still required.
The following footwear is NOT permitted: flip-flops, high heels, clogs, Crocs, sandals of ANY kind (this includes sport sandals that you might think are sturdy and suitable - please leave them at home).
I noticed my credit card wasn't charged when the reservation was placed. How does payment work?
We don't take a deposit or any money upfront when you make a flight reservation. We simply guarantee your place with credit card. You may possibly notice a "hold" or some activity on your card as it is authorized when a booking is made. You will actually pay at the conclusion of your flight. In the event that we need to cancel your flight there are no refunds to process and wait for. Please bring your payment method with you as we will physically need to swipe your card after the flight. It can be the same card with which you made the booking or another card.
If you are looking for convenience, our meeting point is at The Essex Resort and Spa at 70 Essex Way, in Essex, Vermont 05452 and their website is EssexResort.com or phone 802.878.1100
If you are looking for places that really say Vermont, you might like any of these places which are both about 30 minutes from where we meet:
- Sterling Ridge Inn and Cabins (Jeffersonville)
- The Inn at Buck Hollow Farm (Fairfax)
- The Whitcomb House (Essex)
- The Inn At Grace Farm (Fairfax)
If you prefer a location that is a little more quaint and don’t mind an hour or so drive you may try the Governor’s House in Hyde Park- Phone: 802.888.6888.
- Stowe Cabins in the Woods located at 513 Cabin Lane, Waterbury Center, VT 05677 (45 minutes away)
- Hampton Inn (15 minutes away) located at 42 Lower Mountain View Drive, Colchester, Vermont 05446
- Baymont Suites (10 minutes away) located at 27 Susie Wilson Road in Essex, Vermont 05452
- Homeplace Bed & Breakfast (15 minutes away)
- Sinclair Inn B&B (15 minutes away)
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