Take an unforgettable hot air balloon ride over the Napa Valley. A typical adventure includes an hour-long balloon ride with ... More
Balloons Above the Valley
Take an unforgettable hot air balloon ride over the Napa Valley. A typical adventure includes an hour-long balloon ride with your pilot narrating the sights, followed by a garden champagne-brunch. Launches begin at sunrise. Enjoy incredible aerial views of Napa vineyards. Rates vary, call for details.
While much of the balloon ride was what we expected, we were in no way prepared or aware of the "splash and dash" where the balloon descends and actually go a few inches into a pond on a golf course. There was a fountain operating in the pond which sprayed the participants of the balloon with foul, dirty water. Water also came up in the bottom of the gondola and damaged footwear of some of the riders including my wife. We were unable to get the clothing clean (and unfortuntely it was expensive clothing). The balloon company refused to take responsibility for the the damage and we ended up losing more in damaged clothing than the ride itself cost. So, regretfully, our experience with this vendor ended up being a very disappointing experience.
A few months ago I requested a reservation via the website for a balloon ride, for Aug 19th. Although the website stated that I would receive an e-mail confirmation within 24 hours, I did not.
I awaited my e-mail confirmation, hoping that date would be available for a balloon flight. Since I was going to be on my honeymoon, I had hoped for something special. After approximately one week of waiting for this e-mail confirmation, I sent my own e-mail to inquire about this. I received no response. I waited another week and sent another e-mail. Again, no response from this company. At this point I was beginning to get frustrated. I telephoned the number listed on the website, received no response, and left a message regarding my situation. Again, no response from the company. I found this failure to reply to me incredibly unprofessional.
Imagine my surprise when I return to New Jersey, on the 20th, from my honeymoon only to discover two messages on my home answering machine regarding the unconfirmed flight. Further exasperating the situation, I was apparently charged $423.70.
I have since sent two additional e-mails that were both ignored. My wife telephoned and was told that the confirmation e-mail was sent to the incorrect e-mail address. This woman then promised to look into our situation and get back to us. We are still waiting contact from this company, and I am far from optimistic that we will receive any.
I am incredibly aggravated at this situation and hope that it can be resolved. I have disputed the charges with my credit card company.
I think a balloon ride could be fun and exciting but not with this company. We arrived at 5:30 am as planned for our balloon ride and then were stuck in the back of a van for over 2 hours chasing the first flight around the valley because the pilot couldn't find a place to land. Once we finally got in the balloon, we flew over the city of Napa for less than 1/2 hour before the pilot told us that we had flown for 40 minutes (not!) and it was time to land. Upon landing in a dirt patch between apartment buildings in downtown Napa the balloon tipped over which was, shall we say... exciting. Not exactly the experience we signed up for. At the brunch following the flight, our pilot kept coming up to us while we were trying to eat and telling us how great our 40 minute flight was. I think he was trying to convince us that we were in the air for 40 minutes (supposed to be an hour flight) when in actuality we were in the air for about 25 minutes (I know how to read a wrist watch!). The following week, my called Balloons Above the Valley to complain about the experience and was not even given the courtesy of a return call. She called three times and they never called her back. I called and left a message on the owner's voicemail and never received a return call either. This company apparently has no concern for their customer's experience. Our flight with Balloons Above the Valley was terrible and their customer service is even worse!
My wife and I took a ride with Balloons Above The Valley several years ago, and it was an enjoyable, if somewhat overpriced outing. However, I cannot recommend this company in good conscience given a recent experience. Having had a fair experience with them on our previous outing, my wife and I purchased my parents pre-paid vouchers for a flight with Balloons Above the Valley for Christmas. We purchased these the within a week of Christmas, and only found out on Christmas day that this was something that my mother would be unable to do, due to a crippling fear of heights that she had not revealed previously. We therefore called the first business day possible, the day after Christmas, to request a refund of the nominally non-refundable voucher. I told the manager that I understood the policy at the time of purchase, and I agreed that the policy would dissuade patrons from purchasing a 6 month voucher, and deciding several months hence that they would not be able to use it, such that, in most cases, the vouchers should be non-refundable. However, I asked that an exception be made given the totality of the circumstances, e.g. that we had no idea that heights would be a problem for my mother, that the vouchers were purchased as a surprise gift so there was no way to confirm with my parents ahead of time that such a flight would be feasible, that the tickets were purchased just prior to Christmas, were dated for use within 6 months of 12/25/07 and we were calling the day after Christmas, 12/26/07. However, the manager refused to be human, instead hiding behind the most cowardly reason to do anything: just following policy/orders. Merry Christmas to you too, Balloons Above The Valley.
I am left with 2 vouchers for a company with no ethics, no money with which to in some other way grant my mother a holiday wish, and with a fervent desire that others are spared the distasteful experience I had with this unreasonable company.
Avoid Balloons Above The Valley. They promise a serene experience. Mine was anything but.
One of the things Balloons Above The Valley doesn't tell you is that there is a 33% chance that you won't fly over the Napa Valley iteself. (I suppose that's why their name isn't "Balloons Above Napa Valley".) They won't tell you this, of course, and their web site and promotional materials all promote flying over the scenic beauty of the Napa Valley. We ended up flying over corn fields and pepper plants in a neighboring valley, not vineyards in the Napa Valley. And, the promised 60 minute flight was 45 minutes max.
We feel like we were mislead by the company and got very little value for the $400 we spent. Buyer beware!
On August 7, my husband and I attended the 5:30A scheduled Balloon flight out of Napa Valley.
Bob informed us the ceiling was too low for visibility over Napa and the vineyards, so we needed to be driven to Winters, just south of Sacramento.
The 1-hour drive appeared to be difficult for our driver (a young blonde woman) to stay alert (very sleepy). She kept driving over the rumble strips along the center medium of the highway. My husband brought this to my attention. We watched her in the rear-view mirror. I was scared but became nearly petrified when both her eyes appeared to close, and my husband yelled forward, "are you all right up there". She simply replied with, "the sun is in my eyes".
Shortly after that, our exit came up -- But, then another customer (in the second row of the van) had to tell her she had just gotten a flat tire. That was when we got into another van and were taken the rest of the way for the balloon ride.
While waiting in the field, Bob was quite busy with everyone standing around watching, so it did not appear to be the time to say anything to him about the drive.
After ballooning, we went with a different driver back to Napa for brunch. During this brunch, Bob was quite busy and we did not want to create a scene by bringing this up in front of the whole group.
Toward the end of the brunch, this young driver approached us with our 'Certificate of Ascension' and said, "I'm sorry about earlier". I told her, she scared us to death. (There was no other reason for her to apologize to us, other than she was having trouble staying alert).
As we left, we were returned to our hotel by another young driver and we asked her to relay this issue to Bob. She said she would, that he would like to know about these kind of issues.
After arriving home from our travels, I wrote Balloons Above the Valley but still have not gotten a response to my E-mail.
I flew with Balloons Above the Valley in late Jun 07. There was some fog in Napa, so we were told we had the option to reschedule or launch from an alternate location, about an hours drive away (This would return us to the meeting point for brunch around 1030.) Since I had things planned for the remainder of my vacation, I had no problem accepting the alternate launch point.
I had some apprehension after our launch as the pilot began talking about how they rarely flew in this area and so were not very familiar with where we were/what landing location would be available. Our pilot had some trouble communicationg with our chasers, but was in contact with another balloon pilot whom we (attempted to) follow to land in a field. Due to winds, we missed the field a little and landed hard on an embankment. We all climbed out of the basket, and walked across the property to join 2 other balloons' passengers that had landed in the same area.
To keep this short, I'll not get into the details of what happened, but it was about 8:50 a.m. when we climbed out of the balloon, and we didn't return to our vehicles until after 4:00 p.m. We spent 5 hours in a place called "Mysterious Valley" before walking 1 mile uphill to get shuttled to a gate which we had to climb over to get in the vans to take us back. (For more details, one of my fellow passengers posted a review on tripadvisor on Jul 11.) Needless to say, we expected the company to compensate us for our troubles.
Instead, we have:
- not gotten any apology
- told we got the balloon ride we paid for, so they didn't owe us anything (after being told they would give us a year to take another ride--why would you offer that in the first placce if you didn't believe you owed anything?)
- offered $50 dollar refund (after a 20 minute argument) off the $150-200 price
The other company whose balloon landed with us was very apologetic, treated their passengers to dinner/drinks on the way back, and fully refunded w/out hesitation.
Balloons Above the Valley's response to this situation has been appalling and I would recommend any OTHER company for your ballooning adventures.
I've grown up in the Napa Valley and thought I'd done it all until I rode a hot air balloon. Balloons Above the Valley was courteous, knowledgeable, and professional. The landing was just as smooth as the take-off. And being treated to a buffet breakfast afterwards was dynamite.
Just before take-off, the company takes your picture inside the basket. At breakfast, they presented us with the pictures offering them for $20 a piece. However, the photographers weren't happy with the quality of the pictures, so we were given one picture free and we bought the other for $10. I would recommend this experience and company to anyone!
What a way to start a honeymoon. The crew was great..informative and knowledgeble. The view was beautiful. They food was served by the crew...french toast rocked!! It's not cheap, but my husband and I felt it was worth it.
Balloons Above the Valley provided top-notch customer service and expressed a strong knowledge of ballooning and of the Napa Valley! The pilot was funny, the staff accomodating, and the Champagne brunch delicious! I strongly recommend Balloons Above the Valley to anyone interested in ballooning!
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*Terms & Conditions: Savings calculation is based on Flight + Hotel vacation package bookings for a 3 month period for 2 adults with a 2+ night length of stay compared to price of the same components if booked separately during same period. Savings will vary based on origin/destination, length of trip, travel dates and selected travel supplier(s). Savings not available on all packages.