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 Sanchez Hi 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 Sanchez Santa begins at Sector 1 and he continues through Sector 5. Every year, it’s the same. And that’s the plan.
Elf Buck Sanchez But, as you know, it is never as simple as that.
Elf Buck Sanchez Santa 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 Sanchez What might those priorities be?
Elf Buck Sanchez It 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 Sanchez It 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 Sanchez Sometimes 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 Sanchez So 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 Sanchez You 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 Sanchez But 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 Sanchez I 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 Sanchez That’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 Sanchez When 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 Sanchez So 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 Sanchez As 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 Sanchez That’s my presentation. Any questions, elves?
Elf Lil Cream Do reports sent in often influence a change of course?
Elf Flip Beanz Buck…does Santa ever surprise you guys in Flight Command?
Elf Sugar Cookie Are the radio reports posted on [ as well? This is my first year
Elf Buck Sanchez Yes, the reports definitely changes things for Santa. Not only course, but also speed.
Elf Coffee Bean do you have a story of Santa going off route
Elf Buck Sanchez Yes, the radio reports are archived on, going back several years.
Elf Buck Sanchez Flip, Santa surprises Flight Command ALL THE TIME
Elf Lil Cream how do they influence speed?
Elf Buck Sanchez He drives us crazy
Elf Buck Sanchez Alot of things can change Santa’s direction.
Elf Buck Sanchez If he hears of bad weather somewhere
Elf Buck Sanchez Or if he hears of a special need
Elf Buck Sanchez The Space Station, which was talked about in our last segment, can actually happen at any time
Elf Buck Sanchez But Santa usually goes there when he is over Sector 1
Elf Buck Sanchez Sector 1 has a lot of areas where it is summertime at Christmas
Elf Buck Sanchez So there are lots of families out late, on the beach
Elf Buck Sanchez One of his challenges in Sector 1 is just getting people to go to bed
Elf Coffee Bean Has 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 Sanchez So Santa usually has some time to kill.
Elf Buck Sanchez Coffee Bean, there have not been too many mistakes like that
Elf Buck Sanchez Especially with bedtime warnings.
Elf Buck Sanchez Santa sends those himself from the sleigh
Elf Buck Sanchez His signal posts the warnings up automatically on the website and the app
Elf Cookie Dough So if there is a bad storm does santa have to land till it passes or keep going
Elf Buck Sanchez So in that regard, we’ve been lucky.
Elf Buck Sanchez But once in a while, something weird will happen
Elf Lil Cream like what?
Elf Buck Sanchez Like a couple of years ago Santa got word of a kid in a hospital in China
Elf Coffee Bean Oh wow I had no idea he sent those himself
Elf Buck Sanchez He was in Sector 1 but China, as you know, is in Sector 2. Santa went there anyway
Elf Buck Sanchez The one thing we cannot put into a computer is what is on Santa’s mind
Elf Buck Sanchez He gets a little bit of information and he changes his direction in a heartbeat
Elf Buck Sanchez That alone is one reason we have so many people tracking him
Elf Buck Sanchez We just don’t know what he is going to do
Elf Buck Sanchez In my job, where Santa goes is important to know
Elf Buck Sanchez Because we usually have a thousand support sleighs that will have to adjust their schedule if he changes the plan
Elf Buck Sanchez Which is what he does all the time
Elf Buck Sanchez It’s part of being Santa
Elf Buck Sanchez The reports you guys send can speed Santa up or slow him down
Elf Buck Sanchez For example, Sector 1 usually sends in a lot of reports of people NOT in bed…that slows Santa down
Elf Buck Sanchez Meanwhile, Sector 3, people tend to go to bed early on Christmas Eve in Europe…so Santa has to speed up
Elf Max How much does setting a new speed record affect Santa’s flight plan?
Elf Buck Sanchez Yes, that’s a problem, from my view.
Elf Buck Sanchez Santa is very competitive.
Elf Buck Sanchez He likes to see improvement
Elf Buck Sanchez Especially for himself
Elf Buck Sanchez So the speed record thing always is a thing at Christmas
Elf Buck Sanchez He even mentioned it the other day in his press conference. Did you hear that?
Elf Max Yeah he did
Elf Buck Sanchez You likely DIDN’T hear the groans in Flight Command when he said that
Elf Max Nope
Elf Buck Sanchez The speed record just wreaks havoc with logistics
Elf Buck Sanchez When 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 Max Well, how many sleighs are you keeping track of?
Elf Buck Sanchez Better than 40,000 on a typical Christmas Eve
Elf Lil Cream woah!
Elf Max Wow
Elf Sugar Cookie Oh wow
Elf Flip Beanz I don’t understand. Why so many?
Elf Buck Sanchez Well, there are so many because there are a lot of needs
Elf Buck Sanchez There are scout sleighs and freighter sleighs
Elf Flip Beanz Freighter sleighs?
Elf Buck Sanchez Well, Flip – c’mon. Not everything can fit in Santa’s sack at one time, you know
Elf Flip Beanz Hmmmm…never thought about it.
Elf Cookie Dough Do you use a radar to keep track of the slay like they use at an airport
Elf Buck Sanchez There are weather sleighs, transport sleighs, sleighs of all kinds!
Elf Buck Sanchez We have a sleigh port here. All the sleighs in the skies come from here
Elf Buck Sanchez Yes, we have radar
Elf Buck Sanchez And we have radios
Elf Buck Sanchez A lot of technology is built in to North Pole sleighs
Elf Max That many sleighs…it has to get crowded up there
Elf Lil Cream do they test other sleighs as much as the main one?
Elf Buck Sanchez Yes, sleigh traffic control is a big job
Elf Buck Sanchez No, Lil Cream. Many of the other sleighs have been in service for many years
Elf Buck Sanchez Rarely do we have to test them
Elf Lil Cream oh ok
Elf Buck Sanchez And I would tell you that they are also not under the pressure to go as fast as Santa’s sleigh
Elf Buck Sanchez Santa is the most experienced sleigh driver in the world
Elf Buck Sanchez Not many would be qualified to fly his sleigh. It’s a one of a kind vehicle, every year
Elf Buck Sanchez Any other questions?
Elf Sugar Cookie Why is Santa’s sleigh changed every year?
Elf Flip Beanz I see a lot of Requests for people to know exactly when Santa will get to their house. Is that possible?
Elf Buck Sanchez Santa changes his sleigh every year and he puts them in a museum here at the North Pole right after every Christmas.
Elf Buck Sanchez Santa changes the sleigh because he’s constantly trying to improve – you know, go faster and get in and out of homes quicker
Elf Buck Sanchez That’s the goal, every year
Elf Sugar Cookie That makes sense! Thank you!
Elf Buck Sanchez Flip – 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 Sanchez Also, there are some security issues to consider if we were to offer such a feature
Elf Max That would suggest that Santa could pinpoint his arrival time at any home at any time
Elf Buck Sanchez Oh definitely. If Santa wanted to be there at precisely 11:03pm he could do that without problem.
Elf Max Thank you, Buck. Great session. We will return folks at the top of the hour for our next presentation.
Elf Sugar Cookie I guess if people knew exactly when he would arrive, they would try to stay up and see him.
Elf Buck Sanchez Thanks, elves!