“The Read Before You Buy Page”
Crazy we have to have this page but we do … we want you to know the things that are important about your flight before you spend the money to fly. We want you to know what we know; before you fly … Lets get started.
1) Don’t buy gravity related activities from the lowest bidder.
Do you really think it’s a good idea to buy a flight, which is completely and totally at odds with gravity, from the cheapest possible source ? Ballooning is just like everything else in this world, you’ll absolutely get what you pay for.
At Spencer Air you’ll always find equipment to be state of the art, nothing compromised at any point in the operation. While we’re likely among the most expensive, we take pride in deep attention to detail.
2) Shop around, there are lots of good balloon pilots in the area.
There are also one or two you shouldn’t fly with in the southwest Idaho area. We suggest you fly with a known professional ride provider. There are three in the Boise area.
Never forget rule number 1, you’ll always get what you pay for; oh
and that low bidder, gravity thing too
3) What questions should I ask before I buy ?
Q : How many certificates have been sold that I am competing for space with ?
A : We are not in the certificate ‘selling’ business. You will rarely find more than five or six couples waiting on us to fly because we don’t make the certificates available when there is no space on board.
Q : How do you manage weather related flight cancellations ? (and) How long is your “back-up flight schedule” ?
A : With us, the attention is in the details … We schedule a back-up “weather” date at the same time you book/reserve your primary date and it’s usually the following day.
We do automatic “next” flight back-up scheduling.
While others are trying to fill backed up positions in their baskets, by example we book one load per weekend of flying. If your flight is scheduled for Saturday, your back-up day is Sunday (and) the following Friday.
In the height of flying season it is rare to lose more than a single day at a time unless a massive weather front/storm has struck the area. By booking your weather back-up flight the following day (and not another different load of passengers) you’re assured to get the very next flight except in the rarest of crazy circumstance.
Simply put, your ride is the only passenger ride scheduled on a given weekend. If we fly you on Saturday, we take the rest of the weekend off. If we are weathered out, you’ll get Sunday and the following Friday, as the primary passengers.
It’s one of the reasons our available passenger space is so limited … we don’t have as many dates available because we want to insure our “loads” are flown quickly.
Q : Are you safe ?
A : Well of course we are (what else would I say) ?
Perhaps a better question might be have you had any insurance claims ? (or even) Do you have liability insurance ???
We would say that we most certainly have passenger liability insurance and that we have not had a liability claim of any kind in forty-two (42) years of ballooning operations.
Now, That Said …
Our ability to keep you safe is directly proportionate to you working with us in the event your flight is canceled because of weather concerns by our pilots. Again, you wouldn’t think we’d need to say anything but the fact of the matter is sometimes our passengers think they should be the ones calling out a “go” or “no go” for a mornings launch. “Well
it looks O.K. to me …” won’t make the process any easier. It’s kind of one of those things you’ll need to trust us on and we assure you, your pilot will explain it so you’ll understand exactly why, he/she elects not to fly.
Q : What should I wear ?
A : Always dress for the morning (with regard to temperature) but always dress in layers so that you can shed down as the morning sun heats the sky. Wear sneakers or a good pair of hiking boots. We never recommend open toed anything including sandals or flip flops. Shorts are a bad idea to if we end up in the sage brush someplace.
Q : Can my child, below the age of thirteen (13) fly with me ?
A : While some operators will take your child, we do not believe it’s a good idea from either an economic or safety standpoint.
Balloon rides are very expensive and we’ve yet to meet (in 42 years) the young attention span that isn’t completely done with ballooning after the first 15 minutes despite the fact that every parent thinks their child will be different … (and) the reality is, our passengers, in a speed or action landing must all, each and every individual one of them, be able to manage upon instant command, those things that may be required to keep them safe as well as potentially simply keep them inside the basket.
You’ll always find someone to take your money, we just think it’s a better safety idea to wait.
Q : What can I bring on-board with me ?
A : Anything you bring becomes “ballistic” when it comes time to land. Compartments have small bags that you can utilize to put small items in during landings but we ask you to leave purses, back packs and the like in your car. Don’t forget your camera !
Q : Can I bring a bottle of champagne or wine with me ?
A : NO. While we certainly recognize that ballooning and champagne go together like Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers there are two significant challenges with bringing your bottle aloft. 1) In the event of a speed or action landing that bottle becomes a ballistic weapon to you and the other passengers in the basket, and 2) your bottle would, in the event of an incident certainly violate any number of Idaho laws including several in the open-container category. We just don’t want the risk and hope you understand. We understand that Boise’s ‘groupon’ operator will allow this, we can’t.
Much better we save it for the ground after flight. Alcohol and aviation have never been much of a combination.
Q : Should I tip the flight crew ?
A : You can, it’s not expected or required. It certainly would be appreciated and rest assured, the pilots will share it with the ground crew.
Our Terms of Passage
It is the assumption of Spencer Air, Incorporated that all our passengers and guests have read, understand and agree to do business with us under the terms of our business practices and our method of flight operations as listed and otherwise described herein, prior to the purchase of passage in any of our aircraft.
1) All sales are final, tickets or certificates for passage are not transferable to a third party
2) Gift Certificates are good for and must be flown within, one year from the date of purchase. Weather challenges from previous attempts not included in time limitation.
If you’ve made an effort to use your tickets we’re going to make sure you fly with us. So don’t worry. If we’ve not heard from you after a year, it’s fair for us to assume you don’t want to go for a ride in our aircraft and your certificates will become null and void.
3) Children below the age of thirteen (13) are simply not suggested for reasons of safety.
4) All passengers must be able to receive (and) understand all commands given by the
flight crew (in English) and be able (and willing) to react to instruction on an immediate basis in the interest of safety. When told to act, passengers must do so.
5) Passenger agrees that : Passage purchased for flight at Balloon Classic or Balloon Stampede, as a “Patron Sponsor” that is canceled or weathered out for safety reasons will automatically be rescheduled to the next festival “Fly Date” (which) we will strive to complete on the next day, but may in rare instances be the following year (or) another scheduled date convenient to all.
6) All passengers must be capable of standing under their own power for the duration of the flight, (up to two hours).
7) If you’re pregnant, let us give you a balloon ride after the baby arrives.
8) If you have recently had back, hip or knee surgery or have been in the hospital for any other reason, we assume you have contacted your doctor and that he has cleared you for the potentially “vigorous” activity of ballooning.
9) Here is another one of those things you wouldn’t think we’d have to mention, but … if you arrive for your flight intoxicate, appearing to be intoxicated, under the influence of drugs or appearing to be under the influence, we can’t, and won’t load you in the basket and you agree that your flight and flight cost are forfeited under described circumstances.
While we are not trained medical or enforcement personnel it’s fair and reasonable to assume that where there is reason to suspect intoxication (behavior, smell, etc …) that there is reasonable cause for us to deny boarding.
10) The fact of the matter is that ballooning is an activity that is completely driven by weather in the immediate area of our flight activity. We are able to fly only in the very best of weather conditions and because we make every effort to provide you with the safest, most memorable flying experience possible, there are times when we must postpone a flight to protect our passengers and flight crew from harm.
We’ll always do our very best to get you in the air as quickly as possible after a weather cancellation. Please don’t be angry with us for trying to keep you safe.
11) Inclement weather on your flight date is not the fault of Spencer Air, Incorporated or your pilots and flight crew. Please don’t hold them responsible. They want to fly too.
12) You will be asked (and expected) to sign and return the ‘liability waiver’ that was e-mailed to you. Please bring it with you on ‘flight day’ and return it to the flight crew.
13) While we understand that emergencies happen, cancellations are only accepted up to thirty-six (36) hours prior to your scheduled departure. Within that time frame your certificates become null and void. While we will do our very best to fill your spot, we assume no obligation to do so.
14) We can not take responsibility for where the balloon goes (when) you take your ride.
We know most everyone understand this. Believe it or not this is one of those (we saved a space for this) deals because we had a passenger upset because we didn’t get her to “oz” or something.
Please understand, the average hot air balloon flight only goes a few miles. It is completely dependent upon wind speed and direction (as to) where we end up at the end of your flight. You may float a few miles or a few hundred yards, we can’t control the distance flown. (we can and do, however) try and insure that each passenger gets a good ride each and every time.
We don’t go far because of the very reason we strive to keep you safe when you fly, low wind speed. We like less than 5mph on the ground. It makes for much more comfortable landings for you and your party. (also) If we get the chance, we may try and work the wind and navigate back to our launch spot. This is called flying ‘the box’ and is very cool, given you’re flying in a craft you can’t steer. Most people get that.
15) With regard to altitude, we always try and sneak up to a few thousand feet during a ride so that you can have a good look around the area. We don’t stay up high for a variety of technical reasons. (also) We go up as wind speeds allow us to do so safely.
Your flight in a balloon will average an altitude at or below 5oo feet above the ground.
16) A few days ago we picked the wrong location to try and launch balloons from given the weather conditions of the day. We didn’t do it on purpose, it just happened. Balloons were able to safely fly from another location, we had to cancel. It happens. We’re sorry.We are exceptionally dependent on the weather for keeping everyone safe during each and every flight operation. We’ll always error on the side of our passengers and their safety.
17) This space reserved for some other absurd thing that we haven’t yet identified but certainly one of our passengers will demonstrate a need for us to include in this spot.
18) Here’s another one of those things you’d assume people would figure out on their own … it is not up to Spencer Air to reach out and make initial contact with passengers. It is strictly the responsibility of each passenger to reach out and schedule his or her ride in our balloons. Why ? Well most of our certificates are sold blindly and we have no idea who they will be gifted to, so, how could we possibly contact them to schedule a flight? (and) It isn’t the fault of Spencer Air if you don’t contact us within the first year (though) we will always try and do what is right for each situation.
19) Have a look at the notice below. This has become a very serious problem …
Private Couple Balloon Ride
The most basic of our flights, a ride for two people. You’ll make an early morning, near sunrise, liftoff in one of our hot air balloons piloted by Laurie; it will be just the three of you in the basket.
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