Gondola Club FAQs

POLICIES

What is your cancellation policy?


Gondola Club tickets are non-refundable, except in the event of the complete closure of the Gondola Club*.

Cancellation of the Balloon Inflation
Occasionally the weather prohibits the launch or inflation of balloons. The Gondola Club will stay open at these times, and your tickets are still valid, as the meal and other services will still be offered. You will be issued a “Rain Check” in the form of a General Admission ticket, allowing you to visit the Balloon Fiesta at another time to see the balloons. Your “Rain Check” allows general admission to the balloon event, not to the Gondola Club. Gondola Club tickets are non-refundable in the event of the cancellation of a balloon inflation.

*Complete Closure of the Gondola Club
While the weather may occasionally prohibit the balloon event from taking place, on extremely rare occasions, the Gondola Club will be closed entirely. This will only happen if management determines the area has been damaged by weather, is unsafe, and management determines that it is not hospitable for service.

If severe weather has been reported in northern Albuquerque, please do the following. 

If your Gondola Club session has been cancelled, the following options are available:

  • Transfer of tickets to a different session. Please notify us immediately of your preferred session.
  • Transfer of tickets to the following year. We will hold your tickets for up to one (1) year. Please contact us to reschedule your session.
  • Refund. If you are unable to attend another Gondola Club session, and access to the Gondola Club has been cancelled by AIBF, we will refund your tickets. Please notify us no later than Oct. 31st and your refund will be processed as soon as possible. Please note that a 5% restocking fee will be deducted from refunds.

I bought my Gondola Club tickets. Now what?

  1. You will receive a confirmation email, followed by a 2nd email with your print-at-home tickets. 
  2. We will mail you a packet that includes your parking pass, map, FAQs, and gift vouchers. 
    IMPORTANT: If you do not receive your packet within 2 weeks of your purchase, you must contact us. We will not replace packets after 2 weeks beyond your purchase date. 
    It is also very important that you provide your SHIPPING ADDRESS at the time of your ticket purchase to ensure that we mail your pack to the correct address. 

How do I get my Gondola Club tickets?


When you purchased your tickets, you should have received an email that includes your “Print At Home” ticket as a PDF file. Please print out all of your tickets, bring them with you and present them at the entrance to the Gondola Club.

We highly recommend that you store your printed ticket in a secure location and treat it as you would any valuable! Unauthorized duplication of these tickets will prevent your admittance into the event. Each ticket will be scanned upon entrance. Once scanned, the individual bar code on it will be recorded in our system and rendered “complete” which means that ONLY the first scan gets into the event.

If you are unable to print your Gondola Club ticket due to any circumstance, (printer problems, access to a printer, etc.) you can:

  • Bring the credit card that was used to purchase the ticket when you attend your Gondola Club session, and a Balloon fiesta representative can retrieve your order and redeem your ticket.
  • Provide your order number when you attend your Gondola Club session, and a Balloon fiesta representative can retrieve your order and redeem your ticket.

Save your ticket to your phone that you’ll bring to the Gondola Club.

If you did not receive an email with your Print-At-Home ticket, call (855) 725-1824. 

What do I need to know about parking passes?


A specific parking pass is required to access the Balloon Fiesta Park and the Gondola Club parking lot. You will not be allowed to access these areas without this pass.

Due to the size of the Gondola Club parking lot, we can only issue 1 parking pass for every 4 people in a group, as follows:

1-4 people - 1 parking pass
5-8 people - 2 parking passes
9-12 people - 3 parking passes
13-16 people - 4 parking passes
17-20 people - 5 parking passes
Etc. ...

If your parking pass is lost or stolen, replacement parking passes may be purchased for $75 each. (Replacement parking passes require proof of ticket purchase.)

Additional parking is available for our General Parking area for $15 per car, per session. Note that General Parking is not located near the Gondola Club.

We will not mail out parking passes for purchases made after September 21, 2018. 

How do I get my parking pass after Sept. 21, 2017?

Thank you for attending the Gondola Club at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. It is necessary that we mail out the Gondola Club parking pass via regular mail, rather than email. However, after September 21, we no longer mail passes as our guests may not receive them, due to travel plans or delivery delays. Below are the ways you can get your parking passes after Sept. 21:

1) Pick up your tickets to Balloon Fiesta office (4401 Alameda Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113)
Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm
During Balloon Fiesta: October 7 - October 14 from 8 am to 5 pm

2) Use a courier service. Please note that we cannot guarantee service by independent businesses. If you opt to hire them for delivery, you will be hiring them directly, and not through Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Metrolink Courier, Inc. Phone number: (505) 249-1960
Contact person: Mark Migliaccio
Email: 
Address: PO Box 93325, Albuquerque, NM 87199
Website: http://www.metrolinkabq.com/
Call for pricing.

PLEASE PLAN TO HAVE YOUR PARKING PASS AT LEAST 12 HOURS BEFORE YOUR SESSION. It’s not possible to come to the Balloon Fiesta offices to get your pass, then drive directly to the Gondola Club. The traffic routes prohibit access.

DINING

What kind of food is served?

The menus vary through the 9-day event, and due to seasonality and market changes, we do not publish the menus in advance. However, below are sample menus, to give you an idea of the selection offered at a morning or evening session.

If you attend a morning session, BREAKFAST is included:

  • New Mexico Pinon Coffee, assorted teas, cocoa, sweeteners, cream, and dairy substitutes
  • Assorted chilled juices
  • Freshly baked pastries including cinnamon rolls and breakfast breads
  • Griddled fresh tortillas with whipped butter, cinnamon-sugar, and assorted jams
  • Gourmet oatmeal bar with assorted nuts, dried fruits, home-made granola, brown sugar, butter, and cream
  • Assorted yogurts and breakfast parfaits
  • Seasonal fresh fruit display with berries, melons, and pineapple
  • Fresh whole apples, oranges, and bananas
  • Scrambled Eggs with creamy cheddar cheese
  • Chilaquiles - Spicy, saucy, crispy, chewy, and cheesy- Tortillas baked with chili sauce and queso asadero cheese topped with red onions, crema, cilantro and radishes
  • New Mexican Breakfast Hash - Potatoes, corn, onion, green chili, black beans, peppers
  • Bacon
  • Turkey Sausage
  • Fresh and local red and green chili sauces
  • Grits station with chili braised pork, green onions and smoked cheddar cheese
  • Vegetarian/Gluten Free options are always available upon request

If you attend an evening session, DINNER is included

  • Snack Mix Stations - Chips and salsa, snack mix, and peanuts
  • Passed appetizers - Crostini of tomato, pesto, and fresh mozzarella
  • Hot- Beef quesadillas with chipotle cream
  • Mixed Garden Salad with ranch and balsamic dressings
  • Orzo salad with sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, pesto and green onions
  • Dinner rolls with butter
  • Grilled top sirloin medallions with roasted garlic and rosemary jus
  • Grilled salmon with chili lime butter
  • Smoked tomato rice
  • Roasted squash with tomatoes, corn, peppers and beans
  • Poblano Mashed potatoes
  • Roasted turkey breast carving station with apricot-cherry chutney
  • Apple Cobbler with cinnamon crumble and whipped cream
  • Warm Brownies with dulce de leche

I have dietary restrictions. Can the Gondola Club accommodate me?

The Gondola Club is able to accommodate some dietary restrictions (such as vegetarian, gluten free, dairy-free, or egg free). However, due to the nature of the event, we’re unable to accommodate more stringent restrictions. If you have dietary requirements, please contact us at . Please note your name, the nature of your restrictions, and the date and session/s of your attendance.

VENUE

Is the Gondola Club an indoor venue?

No. Balloon Fiesta is held at a city park, so most of the venues at the event are temporarily housed in festival tents. The Gondola Club includes a large tent, which houses the registration desk, gift shop, and foodservice area, and small dining area. The indoor dining area seats approximately 70-80 people, while the rest of the seating is outdoors in a beautiful grassy area. The overall Gondola Club capacity is 650+.  At right is an overhead photo taken at the 2015 event, giving you a view of the layout.

What’s the difference between the Chasers’ and the Gondola Clubs?

Both the Gondola Club and Chasers’ Club are ticket-only dining areas. Below is a comparison of inclusions.

      Chasers' Club           Gondola Club 
Price  $45 $100 (Some discounts available) 
Event Admission Included Included 
Meal  Light buffet including one hot item Full hot and cold buffets
Bar (excluding Sunday mornings at both locations) Cash bar Open bar 
Parking Not included Included for Private Gondola Club parking lot
Restrooms Event facilities nearby Private indoor restrooms 
Location Northeast corner of launch field Southwest corner of launch field
Entertainment  Strolling performers and some live musical performances during select sessions Live musical performances during all evening sessions 
Courtesy Shuttles   Not included Gondola Club Courtesy Shuttles for on-site transportation
Collectible Lapel Pin   Not included Included
Souvenir Gift   Not included Included with full priced tickets (Not included with group rate tickets, or discounted mid-week tickets) 

What is the atmosphere at the Gondola Club?

While we endeavor to provide an upscale experience at the Gondola Club, the atmosphere is definitely casual. The Balloon Fiesta is ultimately a very large balloon rally, which is an outdoor event. Most of the Gondola Club seating is outdoors on grass, and the indoor portion is inside a tent.

Additionally, New Mexico is very casual. Jeans, jackets, sweatshirts, and relaxed wear are entirely appropriate.

INCLUSIONS

Does my Gondola Club ticket include a balloon ride?


None of the tickets for Balloon Fiesta include balloon rides. Rides must be purchased separately and are available through our official ride concession, Rainbow Ryders.

EVENT INFORMATION

I have a balloon ride planned. Can I attend the Gondola Club on the same morning that my flight is scheduled?


We do not recommend booking a balloon flight on the same morning that you’d like to visit the Gondola Club.

When taking a balloon ride, you need to arrive at the Rainbow Ryders tent very early. The Gondola Club and Rainbow Ryders are located on opposite sides of the field from each other. This makes it unfeasible to park in the Gondola Club parking lot, and then make your way across the field in time to arrive for your flight.

Additionally, your balloon ride may last a while and take you a considerable distance from the park. Packing up the balloon and returning to the field through traffic takes time and may not allow you to return to Balloon Fiesta Park until after 10:00 a.m. The breakfast buffet closes at 9:30 a.m. and the Gondola Club closes at 10:00 a.m. We are unable to extend buffet or Gondola Club hours in order to accommodate late arrivals.

What is a “session”?


The Balloon Fiesta event takes places over the course of 9 days. We refer to the entire 9-day span as “the event,” which consists of 14 “sessions” – 9 morning sessions and 5 evening sessions.

A session is made up of a variety of activities within a 4-5 hour span. A separate ticket is required for each session. While we do not clear the field between the morning and evening sessions, we do close the Gondola Club and the Gondola Club parking lot. There are no activities on the field (with a few exceptions – see the Event Schedule for more detail), most concessionaires are closed, and most everyone leaves the park.

What’s the difference between the morning and the evening session?


In the mornings, the balloons are scheduled to fly – weather permitting. The balloons inflate on the field, and fly from the park in waves.

The evening events consist of balloon glows, where the balloons inflate and stay tethered on the ground. The “glow” happens when the pilot lights the balloon burner – the balloon glows as long as the burner is lit. Glows are also weather dependent. They are also followed by a beautiful laser light show, and awe-inspiring fireworks.

When is the best time to come to Balloon Fiesta?


Any day and any session is a great time to attend! There are some variations to the schedule, but all of the events are stunning.

If your schedule allows, we recommend attending at least one morning session and at least one evening session. They are very different events, and you don’t want to miss either!

During the Mass Ascension, over 550 balloons launch in waves from Balloon Fiesta Park. The launch starts at approximately 7:00 a.m. takes 90-120 minutes. The Mass Ascensions take place on both weekends and on Wednesday.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday are competition days. A common, but incorrect, assumption is that the Mass Ascensions are “better” than the competition days. That couldn’t be further from the truth!

Over 550 balloons fly at every event, whether it’s a mass ascension or competitions. They just fly in different formats. On the competition days, approximately 300 balloons launch at 7:00 a.m. When the competition starts at 8:00 a.m., the remaining 250+ balloons are split into 2 groups – 1 group launch from Balloon Fiesta Park and flies to targets off-site; the other group launches off-site and flies to targets located at Balloon Fiesta Park.

On the competition days, the balloons tend to be at the park much later than on the Mass Ascension days. The crowds also tend to be lighter on Competition days.

On Thursday and Friday, the Special Shape balloons are featured. Special Shape balloons participate throughout the week, but some of the newest designs arrive mid-week and are featured through the rest of the event. On Thursday and Friday, they inflate and launch with the non-competition balloons, and are then followed by the competitions.

In summary, all 550+ balloons fly each morning (weather permitting), but the schedule format changes on various days.

What does it mean that Balloon Fiesta is a “weather dependent” event?


There are various weather conditions that make it unsafe for balloons to inflate or fly. Balloon Fiesta officials will always put safety first and foremost when considering whether to delay or cancel a flight.

Balloons fly using the hot air inside the “envelope” to create “lift.” They “steer” using wind currents at various altitudes. Wind speeds of more than 10 miles per hour make inflation and flight unsafe.

It may be deceiving if the weather at ground-level appears to be calm. But the winds at higher elevations, known as the “winds aloft,” may be too strong for safe flight. In those conditions, pilots may opt to inflate their balloons but stay “static” on the ground.

ACCESS

How do I get to the Gondola Club?


When we mail your parking pass to you, we will include a driving map to get you to the Gondola Club parking lot.

Follow the directions that we mail to you. The entrance to the Gondola Club is a back entrance into Balloon Fiesta Park and will not be obvious on city maps or using GPS. If you follow the route for the Balloon Fiesta General Parking, you in to the wrong side of the park, at which point, there is no way for us to re-route you to the Gondola Club parking lot. You’ll then have to park in General Parking and make your way into the park.

Do not ask your hotel front desk for directions. They will likely give you directions to the Balloon Fiesta General Parking route.

How do the Courtesy Shuttles work?


Balloon Fiesta has general event Courtesy Shuttles that service the park and parking lots. And the Gondola Club has Courtesy Shuttles for Gondola Club guests. Both fleets are comprised of 4- and 6-passenger golf carts.

The event Courtesy Shuttles run between the parking lots and Balloon Fiesta Park. They are intended primarily to assist those with mobility limitations.

The Gondola Club Courtesy Shuttles are for Gondola Club guests only, and offer transport from the Gondola Club to 4 locations – the North Information Booth on Main Street, the South Information Booth on Main Street, Gate 12 east of Main Street, and the Gondola Club parking lot. Due to heavy pedestrian traffic and other limitations, Gondola Club Courtesy Shuttles are only available for pick-up and delivery to those locations.

When you receive your mailing, a phone number will be included. If you happen to park at a parking lot other than the Gondola Club lot, or if you’ve been dropped off on Main Street, you can call that number and the Gondola Club will dispatch a Gondola Club Courtesy

Shuttle as soon as one is available. Again, due to heavy pedestrian traffic, it may take a while for the cart to arrive. Please be patient.