Frequent Questions

Bristol Balloons - Frequently Asked Questions

Buy online or call us on 0117 947 1030 

 

When…?

When is the best time of year to fly?

Any time when weather permits. Each season rolls out its own rewards to the hot air balloonist; the lush, greenery of a renewed spring landscape; the stillness of a warm balmy summer evening or a crisp, misty autumn morning - all are equally spectacular. Our main flying season is from March to the end of October (Exclusive flights are available all year round) simply because the weather is more likely to be clement and the ground largely dry.

When is best… morning or evening?

It may just depend on whether you're an early bird… or whether your preference is to round off your flight with a sturdy breakfast or a top it off with a pie and a pint. It's a matter of choosing between a fresh dewy sunrise or a leisurely sunset. We think both are equally spectacular.

When do we meet?

Balloons fly soon after dawn and approximately two hours before sunset to take advantage of the stable air and light winds found at these times of the day. Listed below are the approximate meeting times, exact meeting times for your particular take off will be given to you when you call our flight information line in advance of your booked flight.

 

AM Flights PM Flights
Month Approximate meeting time Month

Approximate meeting time

Weekdays

Approximate meeting time

Weekends

March 6.00am - 8.00am March 2.30 - 4.00pm 2.30 - 4.00pm
April 6.00am April 5.00 - 6.00pm 4.30 - 6.00pm

May 1st - 15th

16th - 31st

6.00am

6.00am

May 1st - 15th

16th - 31st

5.30 - 6.30pm

6.00 - 6.30pm

5.00 -6.30pm

5.30 - 6.30pm

June 6.00am June 6.30 - 7.00pm 6.00 - 7.00pm
July 6.00am July 6.00 - 7.00pm 6.00 - 7.00pm
August 6.00am August 5.30 - 6.30pm 5.00 - 6.30pm

September 1st - 14th

15th - 30th

6.30am

7.30am - 9am

September 1st - 14th

15th - 30th

4.00 - 5.30pm

3.00 - 4.30pm

4.00 - 5.30pm

3.00 - 4.30pm

October 1st - 14th

15th - 31st

7.30am - 9am

8.00am - 10am

October 1st - 14th

15th - 31st

2.00 - 4.00pm

1.00 - 3pm

2.00 - 4.00pm

12.30 - 3.00pm

How long is the flight?

Every flight is different. We plan for the balloon to be in the air for approximately one hour, but the pilot has the ultimate responsibility for deciding the duration and conduct of any flight and the appropriate time and place of landing. Please allow 3 - 4 hours for the whole experience.

Once I buy a voucher when should I book my flight?

As a general rule we suggest two to three weeks in advance if you would like a specific date, although flights can often be booked with less notice.

 

Who…?

Is there any age limit?

With Bristol Balloons anyone from the age of 9 to 90 plus can fly, however,  children aged 16 and under must be accompanied in the basket by a responsible adult. Elderly guests need only be adventurous by nature and fit enough to access the wicker basket for the hour long flight.
 

Are there any medical restrictions?

We like to think that there are few circumstances that would prevent a flight, however, you must be fit enough to fly, hot air ballooning is governed by Civil Avation Authority regulations. Whist we will do all we can to help and facilitiate a flight, we do ask prospective passengers to make their own assessment prior to booking. Please contact us if you are unsure about anything in this information or would like to discuss any uncertainties you may have. We suggest that you look at the page 'About Your Flight' for further information first.

You must not attempt to fly if you are suffering from any serious medical conditions, please remember, we do have to be mindful of the safety and wellbeing of all passengers on a flight . For example , we cannot fly you if you are pregnant, need to be accompanied by a medical professional or use a bottled oxygen supply for respiratory conditions. Regretfully, we cannot at present accommodate passengers who require permanent use of a wheelchair.

Should a situation arise in flight it may not be possible to immediately land the balloon, nor may emergency services be able to access all landing sites very quickly. Existing the landing site in any case might mean a walk or ride in an unadapted four wheel drive vehicle.
 

Can I fly with a medical condition or disability?

We have flown many people with disabilities, however, as you will appreciate, there are many different levels of disability or conditions. Whilst we are always pleased to give assistance, a benchmark is whether you are able to climb into the balloon basket and stand for your flight (usually of an hours duration).

Baskets for 'Exclusive' 2, 3, or 4 person flights do not have seating. Seating is provided in larger 12 or 15 passenger baskets for the moment of take off and landing which you can use during the flight (see photo below). However, the view is restricted if you do sit down. The top of the basket is well padded and many people do lean on this at some time during the flight. The average a basket height being about 1.2m depending on balloon used.

Climbing into balloon basket     

Climbing into a basket using two foot holes (left), bench seating (right),
and head rests. Foot holes also visible (top left). 

Access information regarding our principal Bristol take off venue can be found here the Bristol Council Website. (we cannot guarantee the accuracy of information provided by third parties). Due to varying take of times throughout the year, some, all or none maybe available and access to these is outside of our control. Also, if we do need to transport you to alternative launch sites, many of these do not have facilities.

Please contact us in advance if a passenger is planning to fly with a disability or chronic medical disorder.

Is there a height or weight limit?

There is a minimum height restriction of 4ft 6" or 137 cm. If over 120kg please ensure you enter your weight when booking online or when asked for phone bookings (it helps us with our gas calculations). We do not make surcharges based on weight.

How many of us can fly?

You can book for a single person or for a group. Please contact our office if you would like to discuss group bookings.
 
 

Safety

When you arrive at the meeting place, please introduce yourself to your pilot.  Before the balloon is inflated, he will give you a safety briefing.  You MUST attend this safety briefing. Friends and family must stay well clear of: the balloon, balloon basket, balloon retrieve vehicles and trailers during inflation and take off.
 
Smoking is not allowed at any time, including during the balloon inflation, in flight, in farmers’ fields or landing sites.
 
Never let your feet leave the ground unless you are safely in the basket.
 
Once the balloon inflation has started do not cross any ropes or wires or stand between the balloon basket and the retrieve vehicle.
 
There is little delay between inflating the balloon and take off, so please be ready to enter the basket when instructed to do so by the pilot. If you have wandered off you will be left behind!
 
Ballooning and landing are safe provided you follow the pilot’s instructions.  Please give the pilot your full attention during your safety briefing.  When landing it is not unusual for there to be a bump or two, the basket to drag along the ground or tip on its side. You must stay in the basket until the pilot tells you to disembark.
 
 
 

Where...?

Where do we fly?

We can offer you an extensive choice from our specially selected flight areas, which between them, offer a unique mix of city and country flying and some of the most spectacular scenery and landmarks in the Bristol, Bath, Somerset, Gloucestershire and South Wales.
 

Where do we meet?

Where we meet and where we fly from will be chosen according to the wind direction. We do not always fly from the meeting place, and it may be necessary for us to meet you and take you by road to the launch site. Because the weather can be changeable we can't always determine which launch site we will use in advance of the meeting time.
 

Can I fly over my house or village?

Ballooning is like serendipity, which is the art of making happy and unexpected discoveries by chance. Where the balloon goes is entirely dependent on the wind speed and direction. No two flights are ever the same and we rarely land in the same place twice.
 

Where will I land?

How far we fly is determined by the wind speed, which varies both in strength and direction at different heights. As a general rule of thumb the average distance covered in an hour flight is around 10 miles. After landing and packing away the balloon we will return you to the launch site in the retrieve vehicles.
 

Why do some flight areas have restricted availability?

Some of our flight areas have restricted availability due to the number of passengers that want to fly from that particular area. The more passengers that want to fly, the more flights we are able to make available from the area. If you have any questions regarding availability from the area you would like to fly then please do contact us. 
 

How high will we fly?

Depending on the weather, normally between 500 and 3000 feet… but sometimes higher.
 
 
 

What…?

What should I wear?

For your safety and comfort  we suggest you wear outdoor clothing suitable for the time of year.  Stout footwear, long trousers and long sleeves are recommended for all flights.  High heels and open toed sandals must not be worn.  Ground conditions vary.  You may encounter wet grass, mud and the odd cowpat, so do not wear an expensive outfit.  We advise against wearing valuable, loose or delicate jewellery.  Bring a hat if you are thin on top or very tall, as this will protect you from the warmth of the burner.  On cold days or if you are of advanced years and have delicate skin, we recommend gloves.  We do not accept responsibility for damage to clothing.  The Civil Aviation Authority require us to advise you that you should wear clothing of natural fibres.
 

What should I bring?

Your camera, with twice as much film or digital memory as you think you need and a spare battery. Please note: you are responsible for the safety of your own possessions.
 

What do I do if I can't make the flight on the day I've arranged?

You can change your booking at any time providing you give us 4 complete working days notice, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.
 

What about the weather?

The most common reason for cancelation of a flight is due to prevailing or projected weather conditions. For example, whilst this may be obvious during a period of prolonged rain, when this stops and the sun shines, it may not be immediately possible to resume flying because of the ground conditions. At over a tonne in weight our larger balloon baskets may easily bog down on the take off and landing fields. A balloon once saturated from being on waterlogged grounds needs prolonged drying, which can effect flying for a considerable period. Water sodden or flooded fields may also limit the options for safe landing, landowners would not appreciate us churning up their ground, we may wish use their land in the future.  Also, for our passengers, disembarking into a water washed field is not a particularly good ending to a flight experience we hope they have enjoyed.
 
Wind conditions may also seem ideal at ground level, however at a cruising altitude of 1000ft+ or so these may be totally different. We have to be mindful of taking off where a prevailing wind direction may blow us into airspace where restrictions apply and we would be forced to curtail a flight prematurely. The decision to cancel at flight and therefore the need for passengers to rebook is not taken lightly or without consideration of all the factors involved. We wish we were in a position to be able to fly all our flight voucher holders first time, that is our intention, however sometimes ‘mother nature’ decides this is not going to be possible and rebooking is regretfully necessary.
 
 
 

How…?

How can I buy a voucher?

You can buy online or telephone our office and we can either send your voucher by first class post or you can choose to receive it by email.
 

How much does it cost?

Our prices vary depending on when you choose to fly. Check our Special Offers.
 

Can you gift wrap the voucher?

We can organise for your voucher to be delivered attached to a celebratory helium balloon and packaged safely in a box.
 

How do I book my flight?

We will send you a full information pack with your voucher. When you are ready to book a flight please give us a call quoting your voucher number. To avoid disappointment we suggest you book your flight  2-3 weeks prior to the date you want to fly. We also recommend you contact us within five months of purchasing your voucher and book a flight for a date at least seven months before the voucher expiry date.
 

Champagne?

We are often asked if champagne is served on all of our flights, the answer is 'yes'. We serve champagne, or orange juice if you prefer, on all of our flights. Each of our passengers will receive a 'glass' or two of champagne by way of celebration of your balloon flight, morning or evening, any day of the week. Come fly with us and enjoy a complimentary 'glass' of champagne, together with some amazing views and a wonderful time!