Chances are really high (pun intended) that your questions about balloon flights are some of the same ones that many other passengers have had too! We have answers to the most common questions we get asked, and you might be surprised to find your "weird" question isn't so weird after all.
You may also find the flight overview and details on our "Flight Info" page helpful in familiarizing you with the overall process and flow of the flight experience.
Balloon Flight FAQ
General Flight FAQ
Which flight is better, sunrise or sunset?
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.
When is "peak" foliage?
We genuinely don’t know. Seriously. Here’s what we CAN tell you:
Our foliage rates go into effect on the 1st day of October each season. You may see a bit color the week before that, but it won’t be peak. Peak foliage for our area occurs throughout the first 2-3 weeks of October. There is plenty of colorful leaves to be seen during that time. As the leaves change color, they are in the process drying and getting ready to separate from the tree. It doesn’t take much wind and rain to pull off the leaves that are in peak color. So “peak foliage” really occurs in waves. Leaves will peak and then fall off when the wind or weight from dew or rain pulls them down. Trees within even less than a half mile of each other can peak at different times. This color change depends upon many variables including soil composition, sunlight exposure, temperature at elevation, moisture content, etc. If you’re looking for the most blazing fiery leaves, in glowing light, beneath perfect blue skies, with harmonious temperatures, and angels singing we’re unable to provide this information.
Are there seats?
No. Balloon baskets do not have seats. Passengers will need to stand for the entire flight. Please see our “Fit for Flight” section to determine if balloon flying is right for you or your loved one.
What happens if the weather is bad?
If it is not flyable during your scheduled flight slot, we will contact you and let you know. We will offer you the next possible flight window(s). If these fit your schedule, we simply move you to that slot and proceed. If you are unable to reschedule and our team had to cancel the flight for weather or safety related reasons, there is no charge and you’re not obligated to rebook. No money has changed hands at this point so there is nothing to refund.
What time are your flights?
For safety reasons related to winds and weather, balloon are ONLY able to fly at two times of the day – sunrise and sunset.
To find out specific flight times for the date of your choice, this can be found when you select your flight date when booking as the sunrise/sunset times change throughout the season.
How long are the flights?
Time in the air is approximately 60 minutes. It may be a few minutes shorter or longer depending upon where we find a safe location to land. We put a lot of effort and planning into making sure we provide you with the flight time and experience that we offer. The entire experience will take about 3-4 hours. This is from the time we meet you to sign-in, get to the launch field, safety brief, inflate the balloon, fly, land, unload, reconnect with the ground team, post flight celebration, and transport back to the meeting location where your vehicle is parked.
What time will we be done?
You’ll be back at the meeting point about 3-4 hours from the time we met. Ballooning is an experience. This includes, transport from the ride to the launch site (5-20 minutes), the safety brief, the inflation, loading, launching, flying, landing, recovery, post-flight celebration, and return trip from the landing site back to the meeting point. Some of this time is affected by winds and launch location, but the general procedure is the same on each flight.
Who Can Fly
What are the general health requirements for someone to go flying?
Passengers will need to be able to stand for 90+ minutes, climb in/out of the basket, and be OK with the heat and noise from the burners. There are many factors to consider when deciding if ballooning is a right for you or a family member or friend. Our “Fit for Flight” information discusses many considerations that may affect elderly, delicate, and/or frail passengers. It also discusses medical conditions and situations that prohibit us from being able to safely take a passenger flying.
Can children go on the flight?
Kids must be a minimum of 8-years old to go flying with us. By this age most kids are able to follow instructions from the pilot and crew, see over the edge of the basket, not be afraid of the fire, noise, and heat coming from the burners, and can appreciate the experience without getting bored.
Can pregnant people fly?
No. The main risk is a bumpy, high-wind landing (which we can’t predict). There are other factors and elements of the flight which we can’t control enough to protect your little stow away.
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.
Health & Safety
What is your current COVID policy?
Please email or text us for the latest policies and procedures as information in this area changes rapidly. We will start the season (May 2023) with OUT a requirement for masks. We hope to keep this status from here on out. But we can’t predict the future. If you have concerns about our current status – please email us prior to making a booking.
Is it safe?
We take every effort to ensure your safety. All of our pilots are commercially licensed by the FAA. Weather decisions play a huge factor in safety. We have never had a reportable accident in the entire history of the company. Please read and follow all safety information and especially the instructions from your pilot. If your flight is cancelled and needs to be rescheduled, that’s part of the safety equation.
I'm afraid of heights but thinking about going. What information can you give me to make me feel more comfortable?
Weeelll, first of all you’re likely not afraid of heights. Seriously. 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 probable (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. This would also include standing at the edge of deep well and looking down while your feet are on the ground.
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 know how to perceive how high you are since you're not connected to an object relative to the ground. In all the other examples mentioned, you are both connected to the ground with an object of reference 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.
What if I'm prone to motion sickness, can I still fly?
Absolutely! The elements and conditions required to create motion sickness do NOT exist in lighter-than-air flight. In over two decades, not a single passenger has ever gotten motion sickness at our company or any other company that we’re aware of – this is not a factor.
Is it scary?
Well that’s a matter of opinion, and most will say it’s not. What we can tell you is that ballooning is NOT like any other activity that you’ve done before. It is NOT like many of the activities that people want to compare it to (roller coasters, small airplanes, helicopters, parasails, or the like). You’re securely in an aircraft that travels with the wind and not through the wind like all other forms of aviation. There are no G-forces, stomach dropping, nor turbulence when flying in a balloon.
How much does it cost?
You may choose from several different flight options. Click here to see our balloon flight options and pricing.
How much of a deposit do I need to make a booking?
Zero. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. You will guarantee your place with a credit card. You will pay the total at the conclusion of your flight.
Do you offer any discounts?
Yes, we offer 3 different 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. You'll still need to reserve and guarantee your flight with a credit card. We do NOT charge the card at the time of booking. Just bring cash with you on the day of your flight and you'll pay 5% less. Good during any season.
Group (10%) - Groups are considered bookings with MORE than 10 passengers. Group discounts are applied to adult fares only (not to child rates). Group discounts are not available 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 your rate and policy for kids?
Pricing for kids applies to passengers ages 8-17. Children under 8-years old are not permitted on board. A discounted rate of $295 per child is available with each full fare paying adult. For example, if you have 2 adults and 2 kids then you would pay for 2 adults and 2 kids. If you have a booking with 1 adult and 5 kids, you would pay for 3 adult fares and 3 fares for children.
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 starts at 7 days prior to your flight. It’s best to reserve early and secure your spots. If you need to cancel, all you need to do is send us an email.
I want to book and pay for a flight for spouse, adult child, parents, or whoever – how can I do this?
If you would like to prepay for someone, you’ll need to purchase a gift certificate for them here. Making a reservation for someone only guarantees their place on the balloon for that slot. For all reservations without gift certificates, we take payment at the end of the flight and the card must be present.
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).
How can I redeem a gift certificate?
You’ll just book through our reservation system just like normal, except you’ll enter your voucher code at the time of payment. Click this link to redeem your gift certificate.
What is your cancellation policy?
All cancellations must be made via email. Cancelling or changing your flight within 7 days of your scheduled flight will cost you money based on how close it is to your scheduled flight time. Our cancellation policy in its entirety can be seen right here in this link. The information people most want when they ask that question is show below.
Within 3-7 days prior to flight 25% of reservation charged.
Within 48-72 hours prior to flight time 50% of reservation charged.
Within 24-48 hours prior to flight time 75% of reservation charged.
Within 24 hours prior to flight time, 100% of the fare will be charged.
Minimum passengers required for booking?
You may book any number of passengers including just one. However, on occasion, we may need to request that a single passenger shift their flight slot so we do not have empty spaces (most of our balloons have capacities for even numbers of passengers).
Minimum passengers required for flight?
We do need to have a combined minimum passenger count of four (4) to justify the costs of a flight. If we did not have 4 passengers the day prior to your flight, we could contact you and offer you another option. It is on very rare occasions when this would occur (maybe 2 or 3 times during the entire course of a season) during times with lower demand.
Do we get to pick which size balloon we fly in?
No. We fly whichever aircraft is most appropriate for the number of passengers booked on a given day. The size of the balloon does not effect the view, the flight path, or duration of the flight. All of our balloon baskets are “over-sized” which you can read about in the next question.
How many passengers are on board each flight?
We fly anywhere between 4 to 14 passengers on a given flight. These are not your typical baskets that you might have run across at your local balloon festival. We have worked closely with the manufacturer to customize our baskets dimensions ensuring ample space and comfort for our passengers. We could put more passengers than we do in all of our balloons. But we think it’s an important part of the experience for each passenger to have their own spot at the railing. And speaking of the railings, we also had those constructed higher and covered in padding and smooth leather for maximum comfort and safety. For about 95% of passengers, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience – we want you to fly in both style and comfort in a spacious environment.
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 share 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.
When do we meet?
You will meet 20 minutes prior to flight time shown on your booking. Please refer to your confirmation email with the exact meeting time listed for your flight. You may also see the Flight Info page for approximate times.
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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