Santa's Flight PlanSanta’s Flight Plan – Presented by Elf Buck Sanchez, Flight Director


  • Santa’s flight plan is simple: he starts at Sector 1 and goes in order to Sector 5
  • Santa often delivers gifts of relief supplies to countries, cities, towns, villages and families in need
  • It’s impossible to precisely say when Santa will be to one particular house
  • Tracker elf reports definitely impact Santa’s flight plan
  • Flight Command has to constantly adjust to changes Santa makes, affecting 40,000 other sleighs in flight
  • Santa goes to outer space
  • Santa sends all bedtime advisories himself, direct from the sleigh
  • Santa is always trying to improve his flight, whether by speed or accuracy

Chat Transcript:

Elf Buck SanchezHi everyone and thank you Max. We get a lot of questions about Santa’s Flight Plan and I’ll be honest, it’s really pretty simple in one respect. As you know we work from the map that Elf Max explained earlier in the conference.
Elf Buck SanchezSanta begins at Sector 1 and he continues through Sector 5. Every year, it’s the same. And that’s the plan.
Elf Buck SanchezBut, as you know, it is never as simple as that.
Elf Buck SanchezSanta does not follow the same course year after year. Too many conditions out there drive his eventual path. First there’s the weather, then there’s the time, then there’s the prevailing winds, and then the priorities he has of delivery.
Elf Buck SanchezWhat might those priorities be?
Elf Buck SanchezIt could be a country. Santa some times brings gifts of relief — things like food, blankets, medicines and emergency supplies. So sometimes his delivery flight plan is influenced by stuff like that.
Elf Buck SanchezIt could be a person though, too. Santa received millions and millions of wish lists. People tell them of their secret wants and their critical needs. Santa has to plan for all of those and these situations can influence his flight path.
Elf Buck SanchezSometimes things that Santa is thinking or worried about influences the path he takes. North Korea famously makes Santa’s flight interesting and the military there often causes Santa to arrive earlier or later – or sometimes he travels there in a kind of sneaky way. It just depends on what is going on.
Elf Buck SanchezSo when people ask me what Santa’s flight plan is, I tell them the truth. I tell them that I don’t know.
Elf Buck SanchezYou might get people asking that question of you. Every year we get anxious tracker elves who want to know when Santa is going to be in a certain place at a certain time. They want to know this so they can plan. We get it.
Elf Buck SanchezBut it’s impossible for us to meet those requests. Why? Because we really don’t know. Santa does not have an itinerary beyond taking it just one sector at a time.
Elf Buck SanchezI know many tracker elves think it would be helpful it we could be more specific. But I think tracker elves need to understand that we cannot be more specific.
Elf Buck SanchezThat’s why we have designed it so that each sector receives warnings and directions of when to check in, and what reports to send and when to send them. You need to pay attention, trackers.
Elf Buck SanchezWhen Santa gets to any sector he can pretty much go to any place within that sector at any given time. Only Santa knows that and sometimes even he doesn’t know it until the very last minute.
Elf Buck SanchezSo we need to be on our toes. We need the reports your supervisors call for just as fast as you can provide them.
Elf Buck SanchezAs a tracker you need a general knowledge of where Santa is and where he has been, especially within your sector. So you will want to keep constant eyes on the map and constant ears to the radio, so you can be up on the latest news.
Elf Buck SanchezThat’s my presentation. Any questions, elves?
Elf Lil CreamDo reports sent in often influence a change of course?
Elf Flip BeanzBuck…does Santa ever surprise you guys in Flight Command?
Elf Sugar CookieAre the radio reports posted on [ as well? This is my first year
Elf Buck SanchezYes, the reports definitely changes things for Santa. Not only course, but also speed.
Elf Coffee Beando you have a story of Santa going off route
Elf Buck SanchezYes, the radio reports are archived on, going back several years.
Elf Buck SanchezFlip, Santa surprises Flight Command ALL THE TIME
Elf Lil Creamhow do they influence speed?
Elf Buck SanchezHe drives us crazy
Elf Buck SanchezAlot of things can change Santa’s direction.
Elf Buck SanchezIf he hears of bad weather somewhere
Elf Buck SanchezOr if he hears of a special need
Elf Buck SanchezThe Space Station, which was talked about in our last segment, can actually happen at any time
Elf Buck SanchezBut Santa usually goes there when he is over Sector 1
Elf Buck SanchezSector 1 has a lot of areas where it is summertime at Christmas
Elf Buck SanchezSo there are lots of families out late, on the beach
Elf Buck SanchezOne of his challenges in Sector 1 is just getting people to go to bed
Elf Coffee BeanHas there ever been a mix up of you guys sending you out a bedtime warning or red zone warning but Santa goes somewhere else
Elf Buck SanchezSo Santa usually has some time to kill.
Elf Buck SanchezCoffee Bean, there have not been too many mistakes like that
Elf Buck SanchezEspecially with bedtime warnings.
Elf Buck SanchezSanta sends those himself from the sleigh
Elf Buck SanchezHis signal posts the warnings up automatically on the website and the app
Elf Cookie DoughSo if there is a bad storm does santa have to land till it passes or keep going
Elf Buck SanchezSo in that regard, we’ve been lucky.
Elf Buck SanchezBut once in a while, something weird will happen
Elf Lil Creamlike what?
Elf Buck SanchezLike a couple of years ago Santa got word of a kid in a hospital in China
Elf Coffee BeanOh wow I had no idea he sent those himself
Elf Buck SanchezHe was in Sector 1 but China, as you know, is in Sector 2. Santa went there anyway
Elf Buck SanchezThe one thing we cannot put into a computer is what is on Santa’s mind
Elf Buck SanchezHe gets a little bit of information and he changes his direction in a heartbeat
Elf Buck SanchezThat alone is one reason we have so many people tracking him
Elf Buck SanchezWe just don’t know what he is going to do
Elf Buck SanchezIn my job, where Santa goes is important to know
Elf Buck SanchezBecause we usually have a thousand support sleighs that will have to adjust their schedule if he changes the plan
Elf Buck SanchezWhich is what he does all the time
Elf Buck SanchezIt’s part of being Santa
Elf Buck SanchezThe reports you guys send can speed Santa up or slow him down
Elf Buck SanchezFor example, Sector 1 usually sends in a lot of reports of people NOT in bed…that slows Santa down
Elf Buck SanchezMeanwhile, Sector 3, people tend to go to bed early on Christmas Eve in Europe…so Santa has to speed up
Elf MaxHow much does setting a new speed record affect Santa’s flight plan?
Elf Buck SanchezYes, that’s a problem, from my view.
Elf Buck SanchezSanta is very competitive.
Elf Buck SanchezHe likes to see improvement
Elf Buck SanchezEspecially for himself
Elf Buck SanchezSo the speed record thing always is a thing at Christmas
Elf Buck SanchezHe even mentioned it the other day in his press conference. Did you hear that?
Elf MaxYeah he did
Elf Buck SanchezYou likely DIDN’T hear the groans in Flight Command when he said that
Elf MaxNope
Elf Buck SanchezThe speed record just wreaks havoc with logistics
Elf Buck SanchezWhen Santa kicks it into a higher gear – and a lot of times he does this especially in the Middle East — it means we have to adjust all the other sleighs in the skies
Elf MaxWell, how many sleighs are you keeping track of?
Elf Buck SanchezBetter than 40,000 on a typical Christmas Eve
Elf Lil Creamwoah!
Elf MaxWow
Elf Sugar CookieOh wow
Elf Flip BeanzI don’t understand. Why so many?
Elf Buck SanchezWell, there are so many because there are a lot of needs
Elf Buck SanchezThere are scout sleighs and freighter sleighs
Elf Flip BeanzFreighter sleighs?
Elf Buck SanchezWell, Flip – c’mon. Not everything can fit in Santa’s sack at one time, you know
Elf Flip BeanzHmmmm…never thought about it.
Elf Cookie DoughDo you use a radar to keep track of the slay like they use at an airport
Elf Buck SanchezThere are weather sleighs, transport sleighs, sleighs of all kinds!
Elf Buck SanchezWe have a sleigh port here. All the sleighs in the skies come from here
Elf Buck SanchezYes, we have radar
Elf Buck SanchezAnd we have radios
Elf Buck SanchezA lot of technology is built in to North Pole sleighs
Elf MaxThat many sleighs…it has to get crowded up there
Elf Lil Creamdo they test other sleighs as much as the main one?
Elf Buck SanchezYes, sleigh traffic control is a big job
Elf Buck SanchezNo, Lil Cream. Many of the other sleighs have been in service for many years
Elf Buck SanchezRarely do we have to test them
Elf Lil Creamoh ok
Elf Buck SanchezAnd I would tell you that they are also not under the pressure to go as fast as Santa’s sleigh
Elf Buck SanchezSanta is the most experienced sleigh driver in the world
Elf Buck SanchezNot many would be qualified to fly his sleigh. It’s a one of a kind vehicle, every year
Elf Buck SanchezAny other questions?
Elf Sugar CookieWhy is Santa’s sleigh changed every year?
Elf Flip BeanzI see a lot of Requests for people to know exactly when Santa will get to their house. Is that possible?
Elf Buck SanchezSanta changes his sleigh every year and he puts them in a museum here at the North Pole right after every Christmas.
Elf Buck SanchezSanta changes the sleigh because he’s constantly trying to improve – you know, go faster and get in and out of homes quicker
Elf Buck SanchezThat’s the goal, every year
Elf Sugar CookieThat makes sense! Thank you!
Elf Buck SanchezFlip – because Santa changes course so frequently and because he moves so fast an accurate estimation of his arrival time at any given home is very difficult to pinpoint
Elf Buck SanchezAlso, there are some security issues to consider if we were to offer such a feature
Elf MaxThat would suggest that Santa could pinpoint his arrival time at any home at any time
Elf Buck SanchezOh definitely. If Santa wanted to be there at precisely 11:03pm he could do that without problem.
Elf MaxThank you, Buck. Great session. We will return folks at the top of the hour for our next presentation.
Elf Sugar CookieI guess if people knew exactly when he would arrive, they would try to stay up and see him.
Elf Buck SanchezThanks, elves!


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