FAQ's

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Your flight

We meet at the launch site you have booked and or are scheduled to fly from. As we fly from several launch sites around the Cotswold please make sure you know which site your flight is leaving from and allow plenty of time to get there. This information will be on the Cotswold Balloon Safaris website.

Please check the Cotswold Balloon Safaris website as the next due flight status is shown on the home page. Please remember to do this prior to leaving for the launch site. You will also be sent an email providing you the status of the flight. It is your responsibility to check the Cotswold Balloon Safaris website and your emails prior to the flight.

Please see each launch site’s page within the ‘Locations’ section of this site. A full address is listed on each page with a link to the venues own website.

We make every effort to make your first booking the only booking you make. The weather, however, plays its part and some flights are, unfortunately, cancelled. But don't worry your voucher will remain active (providing it is within the valid voucher dates). Please go to the Cotswold Balloon Safaris website and reserve your next convenient flight time and location. Use your flight voucher code to login. You will then receive an email with your new flight details and instructions.

All flight times are different. We try to fly for approximately an hour. This can change due to weather conditions. Please see the story of a flight where you will gain all the information regarding what happens on a flight.

Usually between 500 and 3000 feet, but sometimes higher depending upon the weather.

The flying season is generally from early March to the end of October. We fly just after dawn and 3/4 hours before dusk in order to gain favourable conditions for flying. A balloon needs stable air (ie non thermic) to safely fly which is why we operate during these cooler times of the day.

Please ensure you arrive at the launch site at least 15 minutes before your specified flight time as you MUST attend the pre-flight safety briefing.

We have chosen launch sites (wherever possible) with facilities so there will be the opportunity to use those. Please take advantage of the hospitality of the locations if you wish.

Please bring them. We will make sure they stay a safe distance from the balloon launch.

The most important thing is sensible footware. Come dressed as you would for a walk in the country. If you’re a tall chap or a little thin on top then a hat is sometimes a good idea as you can get a little residual heat from the burners. The Civil Aviation Authority require us to advise you that you should wear clothing of natural fibres.

Please do bring your camera and plenty of batteries/film as there are plenty of photographic opportunities.

Wind speed and direction at different heights vary and this determines our flight, however, on average we cover 10 miles in an hour’s flying time. The likelihood is we will land in a field.


The balloon & passengers

When we talk about the size of a balloon we really mean how big is the envelope. Cotswold Balloon Safaris has two envelopes in service with our main balloon flying a A275. This means it has 275,000 cu ft of air inside the envelope which combined with the double T partition basket means we can quite comfortably fly 12 passengers plus (obviously) the pilot.

The main company balloon flies with a maximum of 12 passengers and one pilot. Although it is quite capable and just as safe to fly with less passengers you’ll be relieved to know the same does not apply to the pilot!

In order to ensure the safety and enjoyment of everyone who flies, passengers must be satisfied they are physically able to take part in the experience. This means that they can climb in and out over the sides of the basket (which is about 42 inches or 1.1m high), stand unassisted for an hour and adopt the bended knee seated landing position. Passengers must also be able to fully understand and follow all instructions given by the pilot and react quickly to them in the unlikely event of an emergency.

Under Civil Aviation Law the balloon pilot has a duty of care for all passengers and, ultimately, it is their decision if someone is able to safely participate on the day. Please see the sections on age & weight restrictions, medical conditions disability below.

We fly passengers from 7 to 90 years of age. Although anyone under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult or if you’re at the other end of the age scale all you’ll need is an adventurous spirit and be comfortable standing for about an hour. The minimum height restriction is greater than 4 feet 6 inches and if you’re over 20 stone or 18 stone and less than 6ft tall you must inform the office as a supplement will need to be charged.

Cotswold Balloon Safaris is not medically qualified to assess your medical fitness to fly. If you believe you are not medically fit to fly YOU MUST consult with your local medical practioner / doctor. You must not fly if you are suffering from any serious medical conditions. We cannot fly you if you are pregnant or use a bottled oxygen supply for respiratory conditions.

We make every effort to ensure people with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in balloon flights with us wherever it is possible and safe to do so. As everyone’s particular situation is different and some disabilities present greater challenges than others in the unique context of ballooning, we require you to tell us about any disability before purchasing a flight voucher or booking a flight. This is so we can best advise you; consider any necessary arrangements to accommodate you, if we can safely do so, and to ensure we fully attend to our duty of care for all passengers’ safety.

We can provide information about disabled facilities at specific launch sites on request. Unfortunately, at this point, we are unable to offer flights to anyone who requires a wheelchair, although we are hoping to have this facility soon, in the meantime, we are happy to refer you on to a company which can.

Cotswold Balloon Safaris is able to offer tuition and instruction but it is against the law to provide this whilst on a Public Transport flight. However during the flight the pilot will be happy to answer all of your questions and explain how the balloon is flying. If you wish to experience flying the balloon yourself and to see if it is something you would like to take further please contact the office where we will be happy to arrange this separately.

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.


Safety & insurance

Cotswold Balloon Safaris carries full public liability and Public Transport Balloon Company specific insurance provided by the country’s leading balloon company insurance provider.

Cotswold Balloon Safaris is fully regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and safety is our number one priority. The company Chief Pilot is very experienced in all aspects of ballooning gained through his work all over the World. Ballooning is the safest form of aviation and is no longer required to be registered as an specific activity on your holiday insurance when you go abroad. Statistically you run more of a risk driving to the launch field than you do flying in the balloon. That said make sure you pay attention to your Captain and the pre-flight safety briefing and any instructions given during the flight. We concentrate and focus on safety so you can relax and have fun.


Cancelled flights

Obviously we would appreciate as much notice as possible regarding a postponement so other passengers have the chance of booking the vacant slot.

Once you have booked a date you can still make an alteration. You may postpone or change your flight booking provided that you do so at least four full working days before the flight excluding Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays. You must contact us by either email or telephone during the normal working day allowing 4 working days’ notice. Messages left on an out of hour's answering machine or by email with less than 4 working days’ notice are not accepted as a method of postponement. 

If you do not give notice of postponement in accordance with the above or do not attend in time to take part in your booked flight, you will have lost your entitlement to a balloon flight.

Substitute passengers will be accepted if notified in writing at least one week prior to the flight.

In cases of unforeseen circumstances we would consider reinstating your voucher on a case by case scenario but you may be asked to provide evidence for this.

If the flight is cancelled by Cotswold Balloon Safaris, most likely, due to unsuitable weather then your flight voucher number is renewed and 10 days added to it’s expiry date (this will be confirmed in an email to you after a flight cancellation) – for use on booking another available flight subject to your voucher’s value.

The wind at ground level may be nice and calm but we have to consider what is know as the gradient level wind (2,000ft) or the gust speed might have been too strong and outside operational limits.

Rain may have been forecasted in the area. We cannot fly in rain because it means there will be poor visibility and it also makes the balloon heavier to fly. Getting a balloon envelope wet can lead to some damage. Thunderstorms or CB (Cumuli Nimbus) clouds may have been forecasted. These are dangerous and we would not fly in their vicinity. If yours was a morning flight, the visibility early in the morning during our flight period could have been poorer than later in the day. Or there may have been a wind direction which would have taken the balloon towards something unsuitable, like a large town or restricted airspace.

Our pilot’s decision whether to fly is not related to what other balloonists decide. Our pilots consider all the weather factors and make their own decision, always putting your safety first. It might be a private balloon and they can legally fly in much poorer visibility than balloons on public transport licences like ours. Private balloons are also generally a lot smaller and therefore easier to inflate and land. We do not take the decision to cancel flights lightly and we always consider safety first when making any decisions regarding the flight status.

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

Anything less than 4 working days notice you should first try to make every effort to make the flight as you may lose your voucher and ability to re book. Anything greater than 4 working days then you should re schedule your flight in the normal way as instructed on the website flight schedule page.

If you miss your flight or arrive too late to receive the pre-flight safety briefing then we must retain the right to refuse your access to the balloon and or cancel your flight voucher. If, however, you throw yourselves on the mercy of the office we may reconsider. Flowers and chocolates do help in these circumstances…. Make sure you leave plenty of time in travelling to your launch site. Ballooning is a relaxing pastime and if we had a pound for every time someone arrived rushed and stressed because they hadn’t realised traffic would be so heavy…. Etc.

The legal bit… Your flight voucher cannot be redeemed against a further flight unless due to illness or extenuating circumstances. You must arrive in good time for the for pre-flight safety instructions and be in a fit state to fly.