Ballooning Boffins Masterclass One: Why do… | Virgin Balloon Flights
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Ballooning Boffins Masterclass One: Why do we have to cancel our flights?

Here at Virgin Balloon Flights we have a love/hate relationship with the weather. At the same time as the weather can help create the amazing views that our customers can enjoy on our hot air balloon rides, it can also mean that our flights cannot go ahead. Unfortunately we don’t have the power to control the weather (however, know that if we did we would definitely make the sun shine everyday apart from Christmas Day when there would obviously be snow!) and so we have to monitor the weather as much as possible to make sure our passengers are always safe.

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So, what do we have to consider? There are many things which need to be considered when the pilot is checking whether it is safe to fly or not. It could be a lovely sunny day outside but there are many other facts to consider which could be causing unsafe flying conditions. Wind – the wind speed can’t be too strong. There are operational limits which we must obey and if wind speeds are outside those limits, we have to cancel flights. Rain – rain will make visibility poor. This isn’t good for either the pilot or yourselves (we want the wonderful views to be as clear as possible!) Thunderstorms – if thunderstorms have been forecast then we are unable to fly as it is simply too dangerous. Visibility – poor visibility can sometimes lead to cancellations. There are legal limits regarding the visibility of conditions in which we fly which we must always meet. Wind Direction - As nice as it may be to completely and freely roam the air in our Virgin Balloons, there are some areas over which we cannot fly, such as large towns or restricted airspace. If the wind directions suggests that we will head in those directions from the specific launch site, then we are unable to fly.

When and how do we check the weather?

Your dedicated pilots will decide whether it is safe to fly or not. To do this, they use the most relevant and up to date forecasts to determine whether it is flyable just before they update their flight lines.

Oh no! My flight is cancelled! What do I do now? There is always another day and another day on which it will be much safer and more suitable to fly, which will only make your Virgin Balloon Flights experience much better! In the unfortunate event that your flight is cancelled, we will always ensure that you have 6 months left until your expiry date, which means in some circumstances we will extend your voucher. But I saw another balloon flying in the area! There are many reasons why it may have been more acceptable and safer for this balloon to fly. There could have been more shelter from the wind at that balloon’s particular launch site, the balloon could be much smaller than our Virgin Balloons, meaning they are easier to inflate and land. There is also a possibility that the balloon is private, meaning that they can legally fly in much poorer visibility than balloons like ours with public transport licences. When will I know if my flight is going ahead? Your booking confirmation will have a dedicated flight line number which your pilot will update to inform you of whether your flight is going ahead or not. The time of your flight will determine what time you need to phone your flight line. Here are some approximate times at which it is suggested you phone your flight line:
FLIGHT TIME TIME TO CALL FLIGHT LINE
AM & DAY Flights from 11pm the night before your flight
PM Flights (September to March) from 12 noon on the day of your flight
PM Flights (April to August) from 2pm on the day of your flight
Each and every Virgin Balloon Flights customer is extremely important to us and therefore we want all of your experiences to be special and this includes ensuring that you are always 100% safe. Although we do understand that weather cancellations can be very frustrating, we will do everything to make sure your wait is worth it in the end and your hot air balloon ride is a wonderful experience! If you have any more questions regarding weather cancellations, then please call 01952 212 750 and a member of our Customer Services team will be more than happy to speak to you.

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