How Many People Can Fit In A Hot Air Balloon?

Colorful hot air balloon landed in an open field

If you plan on booking a hot air balloon ride, you may ask yourself how many people can fit in a hot air balloon?

Most hot air balloons are equipped to carry 1 pilot and 2 passengers. Based on the balloon and basket size, some models and configurations can carry larger groups, ranging from 4 to 60 people. We recommend calling ahead for large parties, in case your group needs to be split up. 

The exact amount of people a hot air balloon can carry varies, just like their weight capacity. If you’d like to learn more about hot air balloons’ weight and occupancy capacities, then we have the guide for you!

Model Dictates Capacity

Small Hot Air Balloons

Small hot air balloons provide a more intimate experience to their passengers, usually groups of 2 to 4. Smaller balloons are also fantastic for couples looking for a romantic adventure.

Small hot air balloons have a shorter setup time and require less cleanup than larger hot air balloons. Smaller balloons are also easier to land, helping you save time before and after your ride. Please note, smaller group sizes do make rides more expensive because fewer people are splitting the bill.

Large Hot Air Balloons

Larger hot air balloon rides are more affordable than small ones since the cost, and tip, can be divided among more passengers. With more people on board, it can be less intimate as you often share a section of the basket with others.

There is also less free space than a private balloon. We have hot air balloon baskets that carry fewer passengers than our competitors in Napa Valley, giving passengers that ride with us a more open atmosphere to enjoy the breathtaking views on their balloon ride.

Large hot air balloons take longer to prepare, land, and pack up than smaller balloons and groups. While larger balloon rides aren’t the best for romance, they’re fantastic for those looking to fly with friends or family.

Which Is Better: Small Or Large Hot Air Balloons?

Smaller Hot Air Balloons Larger Hot Air Balloons
  • More intimate experience
  • More space to move
  • Easier to transport
  • More affordable
  • Longer flight times
  • More stable in windy conditions
  • More expensive
  • Shorter flight times
  • Less stable in windy conditions
  • Less intimate experience
  • Limited space to move
  • Harder to transport

We recommend picking your flight based on the type of experience you desire. Those looking for a fun experience with friends and family, or even just a more affordable experience, should look at larger balloons; our Adventure option is perfect for that. Small groups, couples, or even those looking for a fun double date should look at smaller balloon rides; our Two Passenger and Four passenger options are just the thing for you!

Do Hot Air Balloons Have A Weight Limit?

Hot air balloons have an average weight limit of 1,000 pounds (½ a ton). A hot air balloon’s weight limit varies considerably based on balloon size, basket size, flight equipment, and weather conditions. Other weight-limiting factors include the type of flight booked and any rules the pilot sets.

Larger hot air balloons tend to have increased carrying capacity, but due to safety considerations rarely take off with more than 1,000 pounds on board. But the final decision on a hot air balloon’s weight limit is made by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

While some of our competitors weigh their passengers or even charge extra, we don’t. Our passengers do not have to stress out over meeting a specific weight requirement. But feel free to reach out if you have any weight-related concerns.

Do You Get Weighed for a Hot Air Balloon Ride?

Some hot air balloon pilots will weigh passengers to ensure they do not exceed their weight capacity. This is an additional safety measure to ensure the balloon takes off, flights, and lands as intended. But we here at Napa Valley Aloft don’t work that way, we believe in privacy and in doing so do not weigh our passengers. If you do have concerns about weight, we encourage you to contact us.

RELATED: How To Prepare For Your First Hot Air Balloon Ride

Can You Bring A Backpack On A Hot Air Balloon Ride?

Smaller bags and purses may be allowed onboard at the pilot’s discretion. Smaller balloons with fewer passengers have more free space, making accommodating a bag or two easier. Larger balloons carry more passengers, leaving less room for bags during the flight. We only allow small purses and camera bags onboard as a safety and security measure.

What Is the Smallest Hot Air Balloon?

The smallest hot air balloons are called Hopper Balloons, Hoppers, or Cloudhoppers. These one-person balloons are designed for recreational use and have a maximum flight time between 1 to 1.5 hours. Hoppers do not have baskets; the pilot rides them with a harness, similar to parachutes.

What Is the Largest Hot Air Balloon?

The Pacific Flyer is the largest hot air balloon ever built and flown. It had an internal volume of 2.6 million cubic feet and was designed to fly in the trans-ocean jet stream. It even recorded the fastest ground speed of any hot air balloon clocking in at 245mph.

Conclusion: How Many People Can Fit In A Hot Air Balloon?

The most common balloons carry 1 pilot and 2 passengers, but larger models can accommodate up to 32 people. The size of the balloon you pick does impact the type of experience you have. Smaller balloons offer a more intimate and romantic experience but at a higher price. Larger balloons are perfect for group outings or as a more affordable option since the cost is divided among more passengers.

It’s common for pilots to weigh passengers before taking off so they can make any last-minute safety adjustments. Do know we only allow small purses or camera bags on all of our flights. We recommend reaching out to us if you have any questions.