Frequently Asked Questions & Important Information
Please read all the information on this page for nearly everything to expect about your Arizona hot air ballooning experience. Contact us with any other questions that are not included here and we'll be glad to provide an answer!
Click here for our policies, terms, passenger waivers, and other important information.
The meeting location for our hot air balloon flights is near the intersection of Interstate 17 and the 101 Loop in North Phoenix, Arizona. Click here for a map. Our meeting location is easily accessible from Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, Chandler, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Sun City, and all other locations in the greater Phoenix area.
Our physical launch site will be chosen based on wind direction and weather conditions on the day of the flight. We have a number of launch locations in the North Valley to choose from which allow for a scenic flight with many impressive views. We have excellent vistas of the Sonoran Desert, the city of Phoenix, and the impressive mountain ranges that surround the area. In addition, there are many smaller mountains that we will quite often have the opportunity to fly low over.
We offer sunrise balloon rides in Phoenix / Scottsdale, Arizona seven days a week, from October through May. We offer late afternoon sunset balloon flights in Phoenix each day from November through March. Our balloon rides in Arizona launch up to twice daily, at sunrise and again about two hours before sunset - weather permitting. These flight times are when the winds are calmest to allow for a most enjoyable flight. During the middle of the day, it's usually too unstable to fly due to thermals, wind gusts and unstable weather conditions.
As an added bonus, sunrise and sunset are the most breathtaking times of day for hot air balloon photography. The vivid light and rich color of the low sun on the horizon allows for many fantastic photo opportunities with the hot air balloons painting the desert with additional color.
Our meeting time is 30 minutes before official sunrise for all morning flights, and two-and-a-half hours before official sunset for evening flights. Be sure to arrive on time - late arrivals will be treated as a "no-show" and no refunds will be given. Check sunrise/sunset times here.
Please make sure to confirm the exact meeting time and location when you check in by phone prior to your flight.
The meeting location for our hot air balloon flights in Phoenix, Arizona is the Dunkin' Donuts at 21705 N. 19th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85027.
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Our hot air balloon flights average approximately one hour, although guaranteed time in the air can range from a minimum of 45 minutes to nearly two hours. Duration of flight depends on many variables such as wind and weather conditions, potential landing sites, payload, altitude, temperature and other situational considerations. We certainly love to fly, and will make every effort to extend the flight as long as possible. The ultimate decision on flight length is based on safety and is determined solely by the pilot-in-command.
The whole experience usually takes about three to four hours from beginning to end. Come equipped with a sense of adventure, and plan to leave extra time between the conclusion of the flight and any important later engagements such as dinner reservations.
• Average flight time of one hour in duration (Flight time may range from a minimum of 45 minutes to up to two hours).
• Special post-flight champagne toast ceremony and refreshments. Non-alcoholic refreshments always available.
• Personalized First Flight Certificate
• Digital photos on the ground or in the air (on request, when available).
• Memories to last a Lifetime!
Ah, our number one question! See our pricing section for hot air balloon flight fares.
Yes, reservations are a must. Thankfully, we can usually accommodate last-minute and even same-day reservations. Call us toll-free to reserve your flight at 1-877-9-HOTAIR (1-877-946-8247).
You may also use our convenient online reservation system to check availability and book your flight. Click the banner below to begin the process.
We do not require a deposit payment, however, a credit card is needed to secure your reservation. We will not charge your credit card until after the flight. Alternatively, you may choose to pay the total in cash on the day of the flight to receive the cash discount.
To arrange reservations for a flight or to redeem a gift certificate, call us toll-free at 1-877-9-HOTAIR (1-877-946-8247), or locally at 602-903-7246.
As a rule of thumb, we recommend booking your preferred flight date at least a week in advance to ensure it will be available. However, last-minute bookings and scheduling changes are always possible - just give us a call to find out if we have immediate availability. We can sometimes schedule your flight on very short notice - sometimes even same-day service.
Weekends usually tend to fill up early, being the most popular time to fly for most folks. Holidays such as Valentine's Day are very desirable and tend to fill up even sooner. Try to plan your dates well in advance for extra special occasions.
We have a generous cancellation policy to protect everyone in case plans happen to change between the time of reservation and the scheduled flight time. Cancellations or changes to your reservations can be made up to 72 hours prior to the scheduled flight time with no consequences whatsoever. Cancellations within 72 hours of flight time may carry certain penalties.
See our policies section for further details on our cancellation policy.
If we must cancel your flight due to inclement weather, there will be no charge whatsoever. You are free to reschedule for another date, but there is no obligation to do so. Gift certificates may be rescheduled.
See our policies section for further details on weather conditions.
Gift certificates are valid for two years from the date of purchase. They are non-refundable, but are fully transferable. See our policies section for further details.
The hot air balloons in our fleet range in capacity from two to twelve passengers (plus pilot, of course!). The majority of our hot air balloon rides in Arizona are flown with balloons that accommodate a total of six to twelve passengers plus pilot. Therefore, on a standard flight, singles and couples will generally be paired with at least another group or two. Exclusive (private) flights are always available to reserve the basket to your own party of two or more for more personal adventures. However, we've found over the years that the more people in the basket, the more fun everyone will have! We will fly multiple balloons if your party is greater than 10-12 guests.
For occasions such as conventions, trade shows, corporate functions, company outings, team-building adventures, workshops and other special events, we specialize in large group flight excursions. With advance notice, we can easily handle parties of 30 or more in multiple balloons. This offers the atmosphere and excitement of a private hot air balloon festival!
Exclusive flights cost more than a standard flight, but will reserve the basket to your own party of two or more. An exclusive flight is perfect for private occasions such as anniversaries or engagements. Exclusive flights may be unavailable on very short notice or on certain dates. See our pricing section for details.
Plan to be with us approximately three to four hours from the specified meeting time. We will meet at our predetermined location, take the time to get to know all our passengers and introduce our pilots and ground crew members. Groups will be assigned to their pilot and we'll then proceed to the launch field. The preflight briefing will then be given during which the pilot and crew will explain everything and answer any questions. Guests are welcome to assist in the setup and inflation of the hot air balloons if they'd like, or they may simply choose to take in the experience and snap photos from an uninvolved position.
Once the inflation process begins, it will only be a matter of minutes before you'll take to the sky in our beautiful balloon! The hot air balloon flight can range anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes, although the average length of our balloon flights in Phoenix is over an hour. When it's time to land, our experienced ground crew will be close at hand to assist with deflating and packing up the hot air balloon. After we return to Earth, we will join in a customary champagne celebration to toast our balloon flight (non-alcoholic refreshments always available). We will then return to our original meeting location.
Since balloons only travel as fast as the wind is blowing, we won't go much faster than 7 to 10 miles per hour near the ground. If the winds low to the ground are any quicker than that, takeoffs and landings become a bit tricky. In those cases, we may decide not to fly. See our weather requirements for more details.
On average, our hot air balloon flights last just over an hour, so we will usually cover anywhere from 2 to 10 miles in that time. Occasionally we will be able to make a round-trip journey using the winds, landing right back where we launched from, but most flights are one-way adventures.
As to how high we'll be soaring, we can fly anywhere from saguaro level to many thousands of feet up! Whenever possible, we always like to climb up high initially to give passengers an expansive vista from a few thousand feet up. Down low near the ground is arguably the most enjoyable part of any flight. You'll be able to skim low over the open desert, scare up jackrabbits, quail, maybe even a coyote or javelina, and converse with earthbound folks in residential areas as we gently float along.
Can we fly over your house? Probably not, unless it's directly downwind in our flight path! Since they float along with the wind, hot air balloons can't be steered like a car or airplane. However, skilled pilots can direct a balloon by maneuvering to find subtle changes in wind speed and direction. We have very accurate altitude control by using the burners to heat the air in the balloon, and by climbing and descending, we can use these wind direction changes to adjust our course.
Sometimes these wind changes are so significant that we can actually land close to where we took off from, but usually we'll only have a few degrees of "steerage" to work with. That is often enough directional control to be able to pick out specific downwind landing spots or waypoints from long distances away. In practice, we can usually target an intended landing area soon after liftoff. Our ground crew will venture ahead and wait there for us to land.
Not always. Since balloons travel with the wind and can't be steered, we will land wherever the wind takes us - usually downwind from the launch site. Sometimes we will actually be able to land back where the flight began. A round trip flight requires winds aloft blowing in a completely opposite direction from the ground wind.
Most of our landings occur in the open desert, however, sometimes we will end up in yards, parking lots, cul-de-sacs, housing developments, less-traveled streets, schools, parks and open fields. You'd be surprised where we can actually fit a hot air balloon!
Our chase crew will follow our approximate path on the ground and should arrive before, during, or slightly after our landing. They'll help us pack up the balloon, and we'll return to the meeting location in the balloon chase vehicle, which in our case are comfortable passenger vans.
There are practical and physical considerations for the extremely young or old. Children must be at least five years of age in order to fly, and at least 48 inches tall to be able to see over the basket edge.
We don't recommend children under six years of age, mainly because they'll have to stand still for an hour. Most kids that young will get fidgety and restless after a few minutes of standing in the same place. As well, some youngsters are afraid of the loud noise and heat the burner produces. However, if you're sure your young child will be willing and able to behave well, we'll be glad to have them join us on the balloon flight.
On the other end of the spectrum, there is no such thing as "too old." We have carried dozens of passengers over 90 and even a few over 100 years of age!
Nearly everybody is welcome to fly with us! We've flown passengers from age 2 to 102, and have even been able to accommodate many passengers with disabilities over the years. However, there are a few requirements we need to stand by to make the ride pleasant and enjoyable for all.
You should be in good physical shape with no recent surgeries, broken bones, joint replacements or other medical issues which may affect your ability to take part in a physical activity. Although there are places to sit in some of our smaller baskets if necessary, you'll generally need to be able to stand for the duration of the balloon flight (at least one hour). It is important that we be informed of all potential medical/physical problems at the time of flight reservation. In most cases there is no reason for us not to fly a passenger, but we do need to be aware. The safety of our friends and passengers is paramount. See our policies section for more details.
We regret that we cannot take up those who are pregnant. If you wait a few years and take your child up when they're old enough to appreciate it, it'll be a much more enjoyable experience for the both of you.
We're sorry that we cannot currently accommodate wheelchair users who are unable to stand for a length of time. There are very few hot air balloons in the world certified to carry wheelchairs, and only a handful that we know of in the United States.
Per FAA regulations, passengers clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot and will not be flown. Refunds will not be given for those who arrive in a such a state.
Acrophobia: The fear of heights. I'll venture to guess perhaps 80% or more of all our passengers have some degree of apprehension about leaving the ground. Over the years, we've discovered that it's not really a fear of heights, rather a "fear of falling off edges".
Of the passengers who are adventurous enough to conquer their own fears and take to the air, nearly all of them get back on the ground and vow to come back and do it again with us!
There's a simple explanation for this seemingly remarkable phenomenon:
When looking straight down the side of a tall building, parking garage or similar high place, you are able to visualize your physical connection to the ground. This actual perceived dropoff is what makes you step back from the edge, grasp that railing a little tighter, or in extreme cases, get sick to your stomach. Not fun!
However, in a hot air balloon basket, there is no visible connection to the ground. This detachment from the earth essentially removes any uneasy sensations of height. Furthermore, there is no relative altitude in a balloon - whether two feet above the desert or two thousand feet up, it all feels the the same. But, the view is much better from up high!
As well, there is no motion or turbulence in a hot air balloon. The flight is very stable and there is no rocking or swinging sensation. Being in the basket of a balloon is a secure, comforting feeling even for those who think they're afraid of heights.
We're sure you'll have no worries once you're up there. If you can overcome your initial concern and come equipped with an adventurous spirit, we guarantee you'll be perfectly fine!
Turbulence is unheard of, as we are not fighting the wind like an airplane has to. Since the hot air balloon floats along with the wind, there's no movement once we leave the ground.
While airborne, the basket is perfectly balanced underneath the balloon and there is no rocking or swinging. The entire flight is very stable and smooth, and changes in altitude are gradual and hardly noticeable - not like an elevator. Passengers who suffer from even the most severe cases of motion sickness will not feel any effects from a balloon ride.
The most dangerous part of the hot air balloon ride is the drive to the launch field! That may sound like a joke, but it's the truth.
Although hot air ballooning is one of the safest forms of aviation, it still has inherent dangers like all other recreational activities. Please be aware of your physical limitations when scheduling a balloon ride, as it is important to understand all the possible risks involved. If in doubt, consult your doctor or physician about the suitability of a balloon ride.
The weather is the most influential factor on any hot air balloon flight, and the winds will determine our landing conditions. Despite all the advances in modern forecasting technology and up-to-the-minute aviation weather resources we have at our command, weather is still ultimately unpredictable in flight. Keeping that in mind, there is always the possibility of an occasional windy, bumpy landing. In this case, the basket may make a firm touchdown, tip over in the direction of travel, and drag along the ground until the balloon deflates and we come to a final stop.
For many people, this is the best part - an exciting conclusion to an already adventurous flight! However, for others, a bumpy landing may not be quite what they expected at the end of a graceful balloon ride. We like to educate and prepare all our passengers that every flight has the potential to end this way. Although we will never launch when conditions are expected to result in such an exciting landing, there's always the possibility the landing might offer a little more fun than we anticipated. Whatever the case may be, our professional pilots are skilled and prepared to handle any possible situation in the air.
Hot air balloon flights require ideal weather conditions, which luckily are present most days out of the average year in Phoenix. However, just because it's a beautiful sunny day, understand that it may not necessarily be a perfect day to go hot air ballooning. The wind speed should be less than 7 to 10 miles per hour, and there must be no thunderstorm activity within 50-100 miles. Balloons don't fly in the rain. Even if it has stopped raining recently before flight time, there may be more bad weather on the way.
It is ultimately the pilot-in-command's judgment on whether or not the weather is suitable for flight, and that decision is made solely in the interest of safety. We'd love to fly all the time, but sometimes it's just not going to happen. There's an old and wise saying we use in the ballooning circle - "It's better to be on the ground wishing we were up there, than to be in the air wishing we were down here!"
Weather cancellations can and do occur, so please have patience. Sometimes we just cannot fly on your chosen date. We will reschedule you at a convenient later date as many times as necessary until your flight is completed. If you cannot reschedule after a weather cancellation, there is no obligation to do so. If you have left a credit card number with us to secure your reservation, it will not be charged. However, gift certificates will not be refunded due to a weather cancellation.
Fall, winter and early spring mornings in Phoenix are usually a little chilly before sunrise (30-50°F), so dressing in layers is recommended. Once the sun comes up, it warms quickly. It is not uncommon for the temperature to rise to more than 70°F by the end of the flight, which can feel more like 80°F in the desert sun. Dress accordingly.
It's best to wear clothes that you aren't afraid to get dirty, although we certainly won't aim to do that! Appropriate clothing for ballooning are jeans, sneakers/hiking boots, and natural materials rather than synthetic. We recommend wearing a hat, as the burners generate a fair amount of heat.
Shorts and skirts may not be suitable for some of our landing spots. Hiking boots, sneakers, or a comfortable flat shoe are the preferred footwear. Heeled shoes and open-toed footwear (sandals) must be avoided.
The temperature will feel nearly the same in the balloon as it is on the ground, unless we go very high. The temperature drops a constant 3.5°F per 1000 feet above sea level. Whenever possible, our flights take us higher than 3,000 feet above the ground, so the coldest it may become on an average flight would be about 10-15°F cooler than ground temperature. We'll fly even higher than that if all the passengers prefer to and weather conditions and airspace considerations permit. Bring an extra layer so you'll be warm if we fly very high.
Absolutely! You are encouraged to bring along a camera, digital camera or small video recorder. You'll be able to capture beautiful pictures aloft to remember your flight by and to show friends your exciting adventure. However, please have a neck or wrist strap, and make sure to bring a padded bag or case to stow your camera in before final landing (not hanging from your neck). We cannot be responsible for personal belongings. Bring twice as much film/memory as you think you'll need, and then some. Many people fill up their memory cards or run out of film in the first few minutes after liftoff! Camera batteries have a nasty habit of running out right after liftoff, so make sure they are fully charged or you have spares on hand.
There is sometimes enough room per passenger for a small handbag, but anything beyond yourself and a camera is best left on the ground in your locked vehicle, or we will gladly carry it in the balloon chase vehicle if you may need it at our landing site.
Our pilots and ground crew members put in long hours and lots of effort to make your experience absolutely wonderful - which is our job. Although certainly not mandatory, and never expected, tips are nonetheless always greatly appreciated.
Please spread the word by telling a friend, or the whole world! Word-of-mouth is quite important to us. We love to take up friends of customers, and especially enjoy when guests return for another flight (ask about our "repeat offender" discount!). Perhaps you might also be interested in sharing some kind words or photos for our feedback page, or our TripAdvisor, Yelp, or Google Plus profiles?
Apex Balloons Hot Air Balloon Rides
For hot air balloon rides in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona, call us toll-free at 1-877-9-HOTAIR (1-877-946-8247). You may also email us, but phone contact is best since there's not always time to respond to emails when we're busy flying often.
We very much enjoy getting to know our customers over the phone before we meet to go flying. We will gladly answer all of your questions - no matter how many times you think we might have heard them!
When you are ready to make your hot air balloon flight reservation, the quickest and easiest way to do it is by following this link:
We offer our hot air balloon flights through two standard booking methods - direct flight reservations or prepaid flight certificates. The price is the same either way arrangements are made, but the flight certificate will allow the recipient(s) the freedom to choose the time and date of their flight. Direct flight reservations hold your preferred date right from the start, and are recommended for weekend flights.
In lieu of a deposit payment, we will accept a valid credit card, which will not be charged until after the flight. See our cancellation policy below for further deposit/refund information.
Gift certificates are always available and are valid for two years from the date of purchase. They are very attractive and make a wonderful gift. See the gift certificate section below for more details and policies.
Ballooning is a fair-weather activity. Inclement weather conditions may cause flights to be cancelled or rescheduled, so keep that possibility in mind when planning your adventure with us. Please don't be upset if we have to inform you it's not flyable on the day of your flight - we can't control the weather. All flight decisions are made in the best interest of the safety of our guests. We'd love to fly all the time, but sometimes Mother Nature just doesn't cooperate.
Weather cancellations can and do occur, so please have patience. We cannot always fly on your chosen date. Weather cancellations can be rescheduled at your convenience. Previously-scheduled flights will have priority (first scheduled, first priority). If you cannot reschedule after a weather cancellation, there is no further obligation. The credit card on hold to secure your reservation will not be charged.
Gift certificates will not be refunded due to a weather cancellation. You may reschedule as many times as necessary until your flight can be completed.
• Weather conditions that will generally cause cancellation: High winds, rain, thunderstorms within 100 miles, low cloud ceiling or low visibility.
• Weather conditions that are preferred: Winds under 7-10 miles per hour, no precipitation, good visibility.
Click here for more weather information.
We must be notified beforehand of any possible medical issues which would be cause for concern. Such conditions may include but are not limited to:
• Long-term or debilitating illnesses
• Back Issues
• Severe Osteoporosis, brittle bones, etc.
• Mobility Issues, such as: Inability to stand for extended periods, reliance on a walker/cane, etc.
• Requirement for oxygen breathing equipment, kidney machines, etc.
• Recent Major Surgeries, Broken Bones, Joint Replacements, etc.
In most cases, we may very well be able to accommodate the passenger in question; however, we need to know what limitations may be present so we can plan for a safe experience. If in doubt, consult your physician about the suitability of a balloon flight. Keep in mind the possible landing situations that may be experienced.
Unfortunately, wheelchair-bound passengers cannot yet be accommodated in our balloons. There are only a handful of specially-equipped wheelchair hot air balloons in existence in the world. We are actively seeking to acquire one.
Per FAA regulations, passengers clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot and will not be flown. Refunds will not be given for those who arrive in a such a state.
There are inherent dangers in absolutely everything we do each day. You can get hurt doing anything - driving a car, taking a shower, crossing the road, mowing your lawn, climbing a flight of stairs, or riding a bicycle. Ballooning is not a magical exception to this rule. There are always inherent risks present that we do our absolute best to minimize and avoid.
All passengers must read, understand, and sign our Assumption of Risk Agreement. In the case of minors under the age of 18, a parent or legal guardian must sign the Agreement. Please take the time to view and understand our Assumption of Risk Agreement before you come to fly with us. It is presented here so you can read and understand clearly before you show up. Passengers who refuse to sign the Assumption of Risk Agreement will not be flown.
This Agreement does not absolve us from responsibility - it is our absolute duty to minimize risks and ensure the safety of all people in the air and on the ground. We expect to never have the need to use these signed pieces of paper for their intended purpose.
|• Assumption of Risk Agreement|
We schedule all flights on a definite basis and do not overbook flights. When you make reservations to fly, we ensure specific space in the balloon for your party. If we are full for a certain flight, we must turn away potential customers. Last-minute changes or cancellations affect our schedule as well as other passengers' plans. Therefore, we have a generous cancellation policy in effect to protect everyone in case plans happen to change.
• Cancellations or reservation changes at least 72 hours prior to the meeting time are permitted. Perhaps plans have changed or there is a scheduling conflict that has come up? That's perfectly fine - just give us a little bit of notice and there's no penalty whatsoever.
• Cancellations within 24-72 hours of the meeting time will result in forfeiture of the flight deposit (50% of total flight cost), or the equivalent amount charged to the credit card on hold.
• Should you fail to show up at the scheduled meeting time, or cancel less than 24 hours in advance of our meeting time, the full flight fare will be due. Failing to show up at all - or arriving late enough to miss the flight - is considered a "no-show."
Notification for cancellations must be made by phone. Call us toll-free at 1-877-9-HOTAIR (1-877-946-8247) to make any scheduling changes.
Your gift certificate is your proof of purchase and is to be presented on the day of the flight. Do not lose it! You may keep it afterwards if you'd like.
Gift Certificates are valid for a maximum of two years from the date of purchase. There are no extensions to gift certificates. Each certificate has its own Flight Number and "Valid Through" date which is clearly marked in the bottom corner. The Flight Number is your reference number to use when calling us and is how we keep track of your flight information. Keep it handy when calling to schedule or check in for a flight, and it'll help make the process go very smoothly.
Schedule your flight as soon as possible. Don't wait to schedule your flight until the last 60 days of the valid period. Weather cancellations can and do occur. As stated above, there are no extensions - even due to bad weather - unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Gift Certificates are non-refundable, but are fully transferable.
Please call to check in for morning flights during the day prior to the next morning's flight. Please call to check in for afternoon flights on the morning of that day's flight. Call us toll-free at 1-877-9-HOTAIR (1-877-946-8247).
Weather for hot air ballooning in Phoenix is generally favorable most days out of the year. If the weather will be bad enough to cause cancellation of the balloon flight, we will attempt to contact you as early as possible prior to the meeting time. Otherwise, we expect you to arrive at our meeting location at the specified time.
Be sure to give us a valid cell phone number at the time of booking so we can inform you of any last minute changes or cancellation.
Our meeting time is 30 minutes before official sunrise for all morning hot air balloon flights in Phoenix/Scottsdale.
Our meeting time is two-and-a-half hours before official sunset for afternoon hot air balloon rides in Phoenix/Scottsdale.
Sunrise/Sunset times for ballooning may be referenced at this website.
If you need directions, are lost, or are running late, call Jon directly anytime at 1-877-9-HOTAIR (1-877-946-8247).
Late Arrivals & No-Shows
Please allow extra travel time for traffic. Late arrivals will count as a "no-show" unless all other passengers flying in the balloon are willing to delay launch for your arrival (not likely!)