In every major city in the world, you'll find hot air balloon companies providing rides at sunrise and sunset. How do you know which one is the safest, and which one will provide you with the best ballooning experience?
As you do your research you'll find there are low-cost hot air balloon companies and those that charge a premium. Why do some cost more than others? It comes down to the age of equipment, location, and the type of experience.
Age Of Equipment:
Hot air balloons are required to have an annual check with a hot air balloon repair station every year or every 100 hours of use. The life of a hot air balloon typically lasts 600-800 hours of flying. Unlike many companies, at Seattle Ballooning we replace our balloons after 350 hours. You can see a photo of our newest balloon below. You wouldn't go skydiving with a company that uses old parachutes, you'll want to select a balloon company that has up to date equipment.
Location is everything
Not all hot air balloon companies fly in the same area. In Seattle, there are 3 different areas where people fly hot air balloons. Hot air balloon companies that fly in the two areas North of Seattle in Woodinville and Snohomish fly over congested areas. Although it can be interesting to fly over private homes, we prefer to fly over rivers, lakes, and valleys filled with wildlife. Over the years we found at Seattle Ballooning that most of our guests wanted to fly as close to Mt. Rainier as possible. That's why we fly in the Auburn Valley getting our passengers as close to Mt. Rainier as possible.
How long will it take to get to the launch location?
Hot air balloon rides start at sunrise and sunset hot air balloon flights start 2.5 hours before sunset. In Seattle, you'll find clear highways before sunrise. Trying to get to a sunset flight during rush hour up the congested 405 can take over 2 hours. Seattle Ballooning's meeting location can be accessed by either the 167 or I5 South. You'll find even in heavy traffic it should take you no longer than an hour from downtown.
How many passengers fly on the balloon?
Small group vs. 10+ passenger baskets. We only fly small groups of 6 or less and private romantic flights for 2. This allows our guests to have a more intimate experience and be comfortable. Because we don't carry 10+ guests, passengers can easily get questions answered and talk to our pilots during the flight.
Check out reviews online on Yelp, Google, and Facebook. You'll notice that at Seattle Ballooning we have all 5-star reviews on every review site. We believe this is because we love ballooning and try to do our best to help all our guests have an amazing ballooning experience.
So do we charge more?
Yes. About $75 more per person. The main reason...We use the newest equipment, are the only company to fly directly in front of Mt. Rainier, serve aged 2011 award-winning champagne post-flight, and only receive 5-star reviews