The only reason a session may be cancelled is for the safety of the pilots, Navigators and/or guests at the Park. Please understand that while safety is the priority in this decision, the decision is not taken lightly. Balloon Fiesta understands there are tens of thousands of people, including guests, concessionaires and Navigators anticipating a successful event and have spent their time and money to see the balloons.
The first step in this process is for Weather Officials to advise the Safety Officials, Balloonmeister, Assistant Balloonmeister and Event Director of the weather conditions and forecasts at various times, locations and elevations that the balloons might encounter to determine if inflations are safe and feasible. Those officials then determine if inflation may proceed. If conditions are unsafe for inflation, a recommendation is then made to the Executive Director and President of AIBF to postpone or cancel the event. Occasionally, but not often, the weather conditions seem to be great on the ground at the Park but the winds just above the ground might be two fast or the weather forecast might include strong winds or other dangerous conditions in the near future.
When determining whether a session is "cancelled" and rain checks issued, balloon inflations are the determining factor, rather than flights because both morning and evening events involve inflation, while glows do not involve flight. . Generally the criterion for cancellation is whether a significant number of balloons inflate. We use inflations as the main factor because five of our sessions (evening glows) are just inflations without flights. Morning sessions that feature inflations rather than flights present the opportunity for guests to walk through the balloons and interact with the pilots and crews.
From whom does that official announcement come?
Before the beginning of a balloon event the Executive Director and Event Director must coordinate with the Board President before a cancellation can be called. After the session has begun, the BalloonMeister has the ultimate authority to make the decision.
How do Navigators find out if an event is cancelled?
The cancellation decision will be conveyed to the Information booths and other interested parties by text messages.To sign up for these text messages, click here: AIBF Text Sign-Up, and select the "Navigator" list to enroll. Or text "Navigator" to 96000.
The Flight Officials will also raise the red signal flag near the Sandia Resort & Casino Stage, in the center of Main Street. A yellow flag means that the decision is pending, and the green flag means that inflation is a "go!"
We also anticipate installing one or two video walls during this year's Balloon Fiesta. The cancellation message will be displayed on that wall(s). It's important to wait to receive the message from one of these official sources.
Media has sometimes heard a rumor and in an effort to "be first" disseminated unverified information. The official message will also include a message whether rain checks will be issued for that session. Please wait for the official message before relaying information to our guests.
Generally the criterion for cancellation is whether a significant number of balloons inflate. We use inflations as the main factor because five of our sessions (evening glows) are just inflations without flights. Navigators should work on the assumption that the session is not cancelled unless they receive notice that we are "issuing" rainchecks for that session.
Please do not speculate among yourselves, to the guests, to the media, or anyone else whether or not a session is cancelled. Wait for official confirmation.
What does a guest do if they've thrown away their ticket?
It's important to understand that we don't physically hand out physical "raincheck tickets". The normal process is that all tickets are scanned at any of the various gates. The information from those scans is uploaded to our ticket database and all those tickets are cancelled thus making them unusable at a future session. For those sessions that are cancelled, the information from the scans is purged, thus the tickets remain valid for a future date. If the guest has thrown away their hard ticket, they can reprint their ticket they purchased online or present the credit card they used to purchase their ticket
Do guests get a raincheck on their parking fee?
Officially, no. However our parking attendants usually do accept the ticket from the cancelled session (each session's parking tickets are different colors) to be used again.
What about Park & Ride – how do rain checks apply to that area?
There are two types of rainchecks in P&R. If the guest doesn't ride the bus into the Park, the guest may use that P&R ticket in the future. However if the guest rides the bus into the Park, they've already received their bus ride and we've paid the money to the bus company. In that case they may still use the P&R ticket as an admission ticket "raincheck" at one of the gates at the Park or they may purchase a "bus only" ticket ($10) in conjunction with the prior P&R ticket.