Experience a Hot Air Balloon Ride (First Timer’s Guide)

Welcome to the exciting world of hot-air ballooning! Prepare to embark on an adventure through the skies as we dive into everything you need to know. Our hot-air balloon rides in Bristol, Bath, Somerset, Devon & Dorset soar you to new heights, allowing you to appreciate the beautiful landscapes of the Southwest from a different perspective. Feel the gentle breeze on your face, hear the soft whoosh of the burner, and look down upon a patchwork of fields with an unmissable hot-air balloon experience. 

A Complete Guide to Hot Air Ballooning

1. The Best Time to Fly

Soak up views for miles on end as you peacefully drift through the sky, watching how the landscape shrinks into a miniature world below – nothing tops a hot air balloon experience. 

The best time to fly is around sunrise or sunset. Therefore, all hot air balloon flights from Bristol, Bath, Somerset, Devon & Dorset take place either in the morning or evening.

Depending on the time of year, our morning rides leave as early as 5 AM or a little later at 8:30 AM. The same goes for the evening rides (between 4 PM and 6.30 PM). Whether it’s a crisp winter morning or a beautiful, warm summer evening, the ‘best’ time is totally up to you. We schedule flights from March 1st to October 30th, seven days a week. 

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Weather Considerations

Hot air ballooning is entirely weather-dependent. As commercial balloon operators, we do not fly in marginal or unsafe weather conditions, so we always monitor the forecast closely. For the best hot air balloon experience, we require light winds, good visibility, dry weather, and firm ground conditions. 

Your pilot will aim to contact you with a weather update and confirmation of meeting time and location by 4 PM the day before your flight. However, due to unpredictable British weather, we sometimes wait for a later aviation forecast, which can appear much closer to your flight time. Nevertheless, we aim to contact everyone with as much notice as possible. 


If the weather is bad (poor visibility, high wind speed, or generally unsettled weather) on the day of your hot air balloon experience, your flight will most likely be cancelled. We regret having to cancel and rearrange flights as we know the disappointment that comes with it for our guests. However, your safety is our top priority, and our duty of care is to operate safely. 

In the unfortunate case that your balloon experience is cancelled due to bad weather, you will hear from your pilot. This will be followed by a one-click reschedule link, which allows you to view all available slots and choose another date with ease.

2. What to do Once You’ve Booked

Once you’ve booked a private or shared balloon flight, you’ll receive confirmation and details about your journey. Your pilot will contact you the day before regarding the launch site, weather, and meeting time. 

Once you arrive at your preferred launch site, you will meet your pilot and ground crew. Here, you can watch as your pilot undertakes a final weather check and makes any final changes to the route. Then, you’ll be taken through a pre-flight safety briefing and can ask any questions. 

Afterwards, it’s time to assemble the balloon. We like to invite our passengers to help lay the balloon out, ready for the cold inflation. Watch how the balloon takes shape as the fan pumps cold air into the envelope. After just a few minutes, hot air is pumped into the balloon, and it rises some 90 feet tall! Now, it’s time to hop in and take off.

3. Essentials to Bring on Your Hot Air Balloon Experience

Pack a few fundamental essentials to prepare for your hot air balloon experience. First, don’t forget your camera — whether it’s a DSLR or your trusty smartphone, you’ll want to capture the breathtaking views and serene landscapes from above. 

Depending on the season and weather conditions, pack your sunglasses, suncream, light jacket or jumper, and reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during the experience. A cap to protect you from the warmth of the burners is also recommended. Discover our own Fly Away Ballooning Ocean Cap, this can be purchased online or on the day. 

4. What to Wear?

Wearing the right clothes is essential to coming fully prepared for your hot air balloon ride in beautiful Somerset or Devon. We recommend wearing layers, as temperatures can be cooler at higher altitudes, especially during early morning flights. 

Depending on the time of year and the weather on the specific day you’re flying, our landing spot may be in a more rural area with tall grass. You may be walking in wet, muddy fields.  Because of this, it’s good to wear clothes suitable for a country walk and comfortable shoes you don’t mind getting a little dirty.


5. In-Flight Etiquette and Tips

During your Bristol, Bath, Somerset, Devon or Dorset hot air balloon experience, it’s essential to follow the flight rules and consider other passengers to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Be mindful of other passengers’ views and avoid obstructing their shots—everyone has a chance to capture the beautiful surroundings. 

As you soar through the skies, your pilot will point out views of interest and be available if you have any questions. Despite occasional sounds from the burner, the flight remains peaceful, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the experience. If you’re on a shared flight, try maintaining a quiet and respectful excitement to maximise everyone’s enjoyment. 

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, from deer bounding through fields to birds gliding through the trees. As the balloon ascends to higher altitudes, you’ll witness the landscape below transform. A hot air balloon experience lasts approximately 3.5 - 4 hours, with 1 hour up in the sky.

Safety Precautions for Your Hot Air Balloon Experience

Hot air ballooning is generally safe, with experienced pilots and stringent safety protocols. Before takeoff, our pilots conduct safety checks and give you a pre-flight briefing. Additionally, our balloons undergo regular maintenance and inspections to meet safety standards.

6. How Big is the Basket?

Unlike our competitors that fly balloons carrying up to 16 passengers, we fly in smaller balloons with a maximum of 8 people. This allows for a much more personal ballooning experience, allowing everyone on board to have a more enjoyable and comfortable flight. 

You can climb in and out of the balloon by the foot holes in the basket. If you feel you might have problems climbing in, please let our crew know, and they will help you. Flights last about one hour, during which you’ll have to stand unassisted, looking out over the beautiful southwest countryside.

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7. Landing and Post-Flight Procedures

For many people, the landing is often the most fun part of a hot air balloon ride! Just before, your pilot will ask you to get in the pre-explained landing position. The landings are often calm and gentle, but occasionally, the basket can tip and/or drag along before coming to a rest. This is how balloons have been landing for over 200 years, and it is perfectly normal.

As balloons can’t be steered in the traditional way, you’re never quite sure where you will land. However, the destination is irrelevant; the adventure is everything! After 50 minutes, your pilot will be looking for suitable landing spots. 

Whether it’s the excitement of a drag landing or a gentle upright descent, every balloon landing is an adventure. All our hot air balloon experiences include a complimentary tipple after the flight. There’s nothing better than reflecting on your time up in the air while sipping Bath Gin or a local Somerset Cider Brandy.

After the flight, we’ll return you to the original meeting location approx 3-4 hours later.

8. Other FAQs and Common Concerns

Q: Are there any physical requirements or restrictions for passengers?

A: Generally, anyone can partake in a hot air balloon experience. You need to be able to climb in and out of the basket, stand unassisted for an hour, bend your knees, and hold on. While there is no maximum age limit, children under seven cannot fly with us due to safety regulations. We cannot fly you during any stage of pregnancy.

Q: Can people with mobility issues participate in ballooning?

A: We have recently added a new basket with a door to allow guests to enter and exit easily. Please contact us if mobility is an issue. 

Q: Will I feel motion sickness during the balloon flight? 

A: Unlike flying in a plane or soaring up in an elevator, a hot air balloon ride is very gentle. It allows itself to be moved by the wind and doesn’t make any quick movements. As a result, most people don’t get motion sick on a hot air balloon ride.

If you have further questions please see our comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions page. You can also phone us on 01823 778127, email info@flyawayballooning.com or drop us a WhatsApp.

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