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 safe, fully satisfying flight?
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 TurkeyTravelPlanner.com if you do. Here's why.
A high-quality ballooning company with experienced pilotsand ground crew, Voyager offers a superior flying experience. Mention TTP and get a discount plus have a much better chance of availability! Go to the Voyager Balloons page to watch a 4.5-minute video that really lets you feel what a flight is like. More...
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 company:
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. New equipment or old? Like any aircraft, a hot-air balloon has a lifespan. Careful use and upkeep of this valuable equipment keeps it safe and in reliable working order. You can't know the age or condition of the balloon you'll fly in, but by choosing a reputable, reliable company, you'll be better assured of their equipment.
3. 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 experience.
4. Will you be on the first (or only) 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 the first flight, of the day.
5. 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.
NOTE: Choosing a balloon company is an in exact science, because so much depends on the particular pilot and ground crew of your aircraft, the weather conditions on the day you fly, and the actions of other balloon pilots nearby.
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 service.
Here's what makes a value-for-money flight, whatever the price:
Smaller is Better
In general, smaller balloons and baskets give better experiences—particularly if they are not filled completely.
Pilot's Language Ability
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 hugecontributor 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.
Pilot's Quality Flight
It's easiest for a pilot just to lift you into the sky and stay there while you marvel at the view and take lots of photos. But you'll have a much more interesting, memorable and valuable flight if your pilot works at it, tests the air currents, and takes you through the valleys and between the volcanic cones. Good pilots love doing this, lazy ones don't bother. Your experience will be richer and your photos spectacular if your pilot cares about your flight experience, and this is worth paying for.
How to Make Your Reservation
I suggest that you book your hot-air balloon flight directly with the balloon company from this page. If you'd prefer, you can book your flight through one of TTP's recommended partner travel agencies. In either case you'll be booking through a trusted, legal source which can help if there are any questions or problems.
Confirm Your Company!
Please don't book through some unknown individual, group or website with which you have no connection!
—Some sketchy companies offer huge kickbacks to locals for bringing them customers. These companies are barely profitable, and more likely to be unsafe.
—Fake websites purport to be reputable companies that actually give your reservation to less reputable companies; or that steal your credit card information and give you nothing at all.
—Unethical balloon company cars have been known to visit hotels just before balloon-flight pick-up times, collect passengers, then take them not to the balloon company they chose, but to an unethical company that pays them a big kickback. When the balloon company car comes to your hotel,assure that it is in fact coming from the company with which you've booked your flight.
—by Tom Brosnahan