Just about everyone who travels to
Cappadocia in Turkey
wants to take a hot-air balloon
flight and see the
Cappadocian "moonscape" at dawn from
Cappadocia has 25
balloon companies and 220 registered balloons, with up to 100 balloons
flying on any morning. How do you
choose a company that will give you
a fully satisfying flight?
Choosing a balloon company is an inexact
science, because so much
depends on the particular pilot and
ground crew of your aircraft, the
weather conditions in the day you
fly, and the actions of other balloon
I cannot guarantee
satisfaction from any tourism service
provider because there are too many
factors out of my control, but I do
believe the companies below offer good
The companies recommended below are
all small, with the small-basket balloons
that make a flight more personal and
enjoyable. It's easy to reserve your
flight directly with any of the balloon
companies mentioned below. Mention
you do. Here's why.
A purposely small
hot air ballooning company with experienced pilots and ground crew offers a superior
flying experience. Mention TTP and get upgraded from a Standard to a Comfort flight at no extra charge. More...
Butterfly Balloons consistently receives top
ratings for its flight experience.
They know how to make your flight interesting,
and they are very safety-conscious. More....
Founded by one of Cappadocia's largest and most experienced tourism companies, Royal seeks to provide a top-level premium flight experience for its clients. More...
Whichever company you choose, flight
safety is an extremely
click here and read this!
If you do not choose one of my recommended companies, here are points to consider and questions
to ask when choosing a hot-air balloon
1. How much experience? The
company may be new or old, but you
want an experienced pilot who
is intimately familiar with the region,
because the pilot will be your guide to the landscape during the flight.
2. Do the company's balloons
take off from the same launch site
every day? Taking off from the same
launch site every day, a
pilot cannot take advantage of changing
weather conditions as well as a flight
that takes off from a launch site
chosen with regard to the day's weather.
Premium (ie, the longer, more expensive)
flights are likely to use a better-chosen
launch site and give you a more satisfying
3. Will you be on the first
flight of the day? Demand
for flights is so high that some
balloons fly at dawn, land, then
take on a new load of passengers
for a second flight. This may cut
both flights short, and passengers
on the second flight may return to
their hotels too late for breakfast
or a daily tour. There may also be
safety issues. It's generally better
to be on the sole flight, or at least
flight, of the day.
4. How many passengers will
be in the balloon basket with you? Believe
it or not, there are huge
balloons that lift baskets with
32 passengers in them. Do you really
want to fly in a balloon-bus?
Overloaded balloons, whether large or small, are also inherently unsafe because passengers may not be able to take the "landing position" (facing away from the direction of travel, back to the wall of the basket, hands holding rope loops, knees bent) in case of a windy landing. If there is not enough room for all passengers to take the correct Landing position, chances are high that someone may be injured in the event of a windy landing.
In general, smaller balloons and
baskets give better experiences—particularly
if they are not filled completely.
5. Will the pilot and the
other passengers speak a language
you understand? Pilot
commentary on the landscape, wildlife, geology, history, local culture and ballooning itself, is a huge contributor
to flight satisfaction, as is
conversation among your fellow passengers.
How fluent is your pilot in your language? Some companies will tell you the pilot speaks your language when in fact s/he may only be able to say "Good morning," "How are you?", etc.
6. Book your flight through a reliable channel, and don't book by price alone. Balloon flight prices vary, but in most cases, you get what you pay for, and that includes comfort, convenience and safety. The best balloon companies don't pack their baskets, and they replace outdated equipment regularly. Cheaper companies may continue to use old, less-safe equipment so they can charge less and get more customers. This is not a good idea.
How to Make Your Reservation
You can book your hot-air balloon flight directly with the
balloon company from the links on this and other balloon pages of TTP. Otherwise, I recommend that you
book your flight through one of my recommended
travel agencies or through
hotel rather than some
unknown individual or group with
which you have no connection.
book through a link on TTP, an agency or hotel, you
may have recourse in case of a problem
or complaint. An agency or hotel may
feel it has an interest in helping
you, a customer, to obtain satisfaction
from the balloon company it recommended
Also, an agency or hotel of
which you are already a customer may
be more likely to recommend a balloon
company they believe to be safe and
If the agency is located
in Cappadocia, it may have current
information on recent safety
and customer satisfaction issues.
—by Tom Brosnahan