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What Factors Affect Hot Air Balloon Prices?

By Rhonda Rivera
Updated: Feb 26, 2024

The balloon itself, necessary equipment, and fuel are factors that affect hot air balloon prices. Hot air balloons vary significantly in price, depending on size. Balloon pilots also need fuel for each flight, which varies in amount depending on how long the balloon will be in the air. In addition to all this, hot air balloon enthusiasts cannot fly without a license, the price of which depends on the type of license needed.

Like car prices, hot air balloon prices vary depending on the size and make of the balloon. They typically cost as much if not more than a car, plus they need insurance. Generally, insurance must be kept on the balloon whether or not it is being flown, though the exact laws differ depending on the region. If hot air ballooning is a popular hobby in the pilot’s country, he or she may be able to find a used balloon for much less money than a new one. Used hot air balloons are usually recommended for new pilots because they are likely to damage a balloon in their first trips.

Hot air balloon prices include more than the price of a hot air balloon, though. Pilots need an inflation fan to get the balloon in the air, plus burners and a basket. Some of these items are included in the purchase of a balloon, also known as an envelope, while others must be purchased separately. The exact items sold separately largely depends on the seller. For example, if a hot air balloon pilot is buying from a private seller, he or she might get all items needed to fly a balloon.

Fuel is a must-have when hot air ballooning, and it can greatly affect hot air balloon prices. Hot air balloon fuel is usually calculated by hour in the air. The price of fuel in the area can cause hot air balloon rides to be double the average international price.

All hot air balloon pilots need a license, and must choose between private or private and commercial. Private licenses grant the pilot the ability to fly him or herself around in the balloon, without the presence of other people. Commercial licenses allow the pilot to have other people on the balloon, but they are usually much more expensive than private license. The biggest balloons hold more than a dozen people, so getting a commercial license can significantly change a person’s hot air ballooning experience. To get a commercial license, a hot air balloon pilot must first purchase and train for a private license.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By lluviaporos — On Jun 29, 2012

@bythewell - It is a risk, but so is walking across the street. I'm sure it's not that much of a risk when you look at the statistics or it would be considered a liability when it comes to travel insurance and things like that. I know my travel insurance mentioned abseiling and scuba diving, but it didn't mention hot air ballooning.

And it is so glorious to sail across a bright blue sky without the roar of an engine, or anything separating you from the air, I can see why people decide to get into it as a hobby.

I think as long as you take every possible precaution, you'll generally be fine, although the cost of a hot air balloon will mean that most people won't go the whole way and buy their own.

By bythewell — On Jun 28, 2012

@croydon - If someone is planning on taking a hot air balloon ride, I would recommend that they make sure they are going to be in that area for several days. If the wind is too strong, a good operator won't take you up, but they will always give you another chance at a ride at a future date and you don't want to miss that chance.

It's a risky profession, actually. There have been a surprising amount of deaths from hot air balloon accidents. There was a recent large one in New Zealand where about a dozen people died when the balloon came down and tangled in some power lines.

I guess something like that could affect prices as well, but that's because it would definitely make a lot of people hesitate before they bought a ticket, or a balloon altogether.

Which is a good thing, in my opinion, because to buy a hot air balloon is a big commitment and risk and people shouldn't go into it lightly.

By croydon — On Jun 27, 2012

If you're talking about the cost of a ticket to fly in a hot air balloon, it can depend on what's going on when you get them as well. The cheapest you'll ever be able to get tickets is at a hot air balloon festival, where all the operators are competing with each other in order to get customers.

My sister also managed to get a good price on balloon tickets as part of a package deal and I know they sometimes have them available in travel shows and fairs for a discount.

Try to get a package that's at least going to provide you with a meal and a glass of champagne or something as well. And make sure you only get tickets for an area that's well known for its ballooning, or you might experience a lot of bad weather that could delay your trip.

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