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There’s nothing quite like viewing the scenery from high up in a hot air balloon. Hot air balloon rides are an experience and in most cases, they are a pretty budget-friendly way to take in some spectacular views.
While I think it’s something that everyone should experience, not everyone can ride in a hot air balloon. But, is there a weight limit for hot air balloon rides?
The weight limit for hot air balloon rides applies to the combined weight of the basket and everyone in the basket instead of individual riders. For the average 65,000 cubic sq. ft. hot air balloon, the maximum weight limit of the basket, pilot, and all the passengers shouldn’t exceed 1,000 pounds.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at what determines the weight limit for a hot air balloon, how hot air balloon rides work, and what you do to ensure you have a safe, fun time as a heavier rider.
Is There a Weight Limit for Hot Air Balloon Rides?
The weight limit for hot air balloon rides varies depending on the company or pilot that you are flying with. However, it’s not uncommon for a hot air balloon pilot to instate rules depending on the number of riders and this maximum may vary from company to company. If there is a weight limit, chances are it is around 275-300 pounds. Just like with parasailing, weight limits can vary greatly between locations.
Even then, pilots are sometimes willing to make exceptions for bigger riders. That being said, you may find that you have to pay a little extra for the ride. This will be a partial or total cost of a second ticket since fewer people will be able to go up in the balloon with someone who exceeds the weight limits.
Also, not all companies fly with normal-sized hot air balloons. It all comes down to the size and design of the balloon, just like the weight limit of a kayak, paddleboard, bicycle, or even exercise ball really depends on how it is made.
The larger the balloon, the larger the total weight capacity is. With so many factors that come into play, the easiest thing to do is call ahead and see if arrangements can be made for a big guy or plus-sized lady.
Do They Weigh You Before Going on a Hot Air Balloon Ride?
While it isn’t really common for a pilot to make you step on a scale before going on a hot air balloon ride, you shouldn’t be surprised if the pilot asks how much you weigh. You may need to stand in a specific area of the basket if you are overweight so that your weight can be offset by the other passengers.
It’s important for riders to be honest about their weight when asked. Air balloon pilots have to think about things like the total weight of everybody and how to best balance the balloon basket so everyone enjoys their ride.
Can You Be Too Tall to Ride in a Hot Air Balloon?
The average person is not too tall to ride in a hot air balloon, though operators usually request that anyone over 6’4″ let them know when scheduling their ride. It is possible for someone who is tall to ride in a hot balloon, but the pilot may need to make adjustments so that the basket stays balanced during the ride.
Why Your Weight Matters
The reason that pilots ask for weight comes down to the way that a hot air balloon works. Check out this Youtube video. This guy explains it much better than I could.
Basically, hot air balloons rely on pilots being able to control the temperature of gas so that it makes the balloon go up, go down, or stay at a constant height. The overall weight of the basket and the people inside affect how much heat it takes to keep the balloon ascending even though the force of gravity naturally pulls it downward.
That being said, there is a maximum amount of hot air that can fit inside a balloon. This is why larger balloons with more room for heat often have higher weight capacities than a standard-sized hot air balloon.
Can I Ride in a Hot Air Balloon if I’m Overweight?
Yes, overweight people can ride in a hot air balloon. Being overweight by itself does not mean that you can’t go up in a hot air balloon ride. That being said, companies do set weight limits for the average rider just because it affects the number of people that they can take up at once.
If you are over the weight limit they have posted (if they have one), it’s best to communicate before the hot air balloon excursion. This way, you know if there is an extra charge. It also might affect the total number of people that can go up in the hot air balloon.
If they are fully booked, you may not be able to go without a reservation. Plus, if you are ballooning with friends, you’ll want to be sure there is enough room in the basket for everyone invited.
Are There Any Other Physical Requirements for Riding in a Hot Air Balloon?
Riding in a hot air balloon is something that doesn’t require a whole lot of physical exertion. That being said, you do have to be physically fit enough to stand comfortably for however long the ride lasts, which could be an hour or so.
You also won’t be able to lean too much against the sides of the basket for support. Being too close to the edge could affect the overall balance of the basket and make it wobble a bit.
You also need to be able to get into the hot air basket, which generally stands around 4 feet tall. There is a ladder attached to the side, but it usually hovers above the ground and you’ll need to step really high and pull yourself up to get on it.
Is it Safe to Ride in a Hot Air Balloon if You’re Fat?
Yes, it is safe to ride in a hot air balloon if you’re overweight. The important thing is that you are honest with the pilot about how much you weigh so they can make appropriate calculations.
That being said, there may be instances where the pilot doesn’t want to fly with someone who exceeds their maximum weight limit. Being able to safely fly a hot air balloon is all about balancing and maintaining control of the basket.
If the weather conditions are especially windy or it’s too hot outside, it becomes harder to maintain control of the basket. If there is someone inside whose heavier than everyone else, it can also cause the basket to lean to one side.
What Factors Affect the Weight Capacity of a Hot Air Balloon?
Generally, the biggest factor that affects the total weight capacity of a hot air balloon is the surface area of the balloon sitting on top of it. The surface area of the balloon affects how much hot air can be used to fill it.
You’ll also need to consider things like the weight of the basket, equipment, and even the pilot. These are all things that must go up in the hot air balloon and that will count toward the total weight capacity.
That being said, when a hot air balloon is loaded to it’s maximum capacity, it isn’t going to be as easy to control if the weather is especially windy or otherwise turbulent. Pilots often make adjustments for weather conditions in addition to making adjustments for the riders.
Even the heat outside of the hot air balloon can affect its weight capacity. This is the reason that you’re a lot less likely to find hot air balloons available during the hottest part of the day. Balloons work because hot air rises above the cold air around them.
So, is there a weight limit for hot air balloon rides? To a certain extent, yes. In a standard-sized air balloon, the weight generally shouldn’t exceed 1,000 pounds total for the basket, the pilot, and all the passengers.
Even so, hot air ballooning offers spectacular views and if it’s ever something that you get the opportunity to do, then it’s something I highly recommend. Just be sure to call ahead of time to make sure that the specific company or pilot you are flying with doesn’t have weight restrictions in place per passenger, or at the very least that they can plan appropriately.