Pocket Planes guide: How to build the best airline

Jump to

We give you 10 tips, straight from the developer, on how to make your fleet a hit

There have been plenty of flight simulators over the years, but very few games have tackled the experience of being the CEO of a burgeoning airline. Pocket Planes does just that, putting mobile gamers in an airline boss's chair, letting them expand their service all over the digital globe.

Pocket Planes is all about time and resource management. You have to know where to expand, when to send out your planes, when to upgrade your fleet, and when to call it a day because all of your airports are snowed in. While some of these strategies might come to you naturally, we decided to go right to the source. Ian Marsh, one of the developers at Nimblebit, was kind enough to offer up 10 tips to running a successful airline. We've supplemented those tips with some handy advice on how best to implement them. With our help, you'll be running the next Pan Am in no time!



Marsh: This may sound obvious, but above starting with a full plane of passengers to drop off along your route, you get a 25% bonus in coins when your plane is full of passengers going to the same destination.

You'll maximize your profits by sending a full plane to the same location. A good way to do this (especially if you're trying to fill a plane with four or more seats) is to leave a half-full plane waiting at an airport. When new jobs come in, the passengers you've already loaded on your plane will remain, and the new jobs are likely to match them. Keep waiting until your plane is full of passengers all going to the same place. Of course, if you'd rather not babysit the game, you can always just send out the plane with a bunch of passengers or cargo going to around the same region. You won't get the 25% bonus, but it's better than nothing.

2. Spread your wings!

Marsh: Avoid clumping your cities in small groups, and unlock cities at the edge of the range of your planes.

Having two cities right next to each other is only helpful early in the game, when you're trying to make some extra scratch. Once you start expanding, note the range of your planes (indicated by a green circle whenever you're selecting your route). The idea is to expand to airports that are right on the edge, but still inside, that circle. That'll give you the most bang for your expansion.


Marsh: The straighter your route, the more profitable it will be. Avoid routes with large curves or sharp angles.

What did your math teacher always say? The quickest route between two points is a straight line. This remains true in Pocket Planes. If you're constantly sending your planes on routes that have sharp zigzags, you're not maximizing your profit. A good way to ensure this? Only expand to airports that are mostly level with your other airports. That way, all your routes will be mostly straight and you'll save on gas money.




Marsh: If you'd like to participate in an event halfway around the world, you can open up cities that have no connection to the rest of your airline. Just remove a plane or two and re-commission them wherever you like.

Worldwide events let you team up with friends to form a flight crew (might we suggest the #Polygon flight crew?) and send passengers and cargo to the same city over the course of a few days. The chosen city is often well out of the range of any of the airports you've already built. You could try to spend a bunch of money, expanding all the way to the event, but there's an easier way. Just build an airport where the event is going down, and then build one or two airports in the vicinity of that event. You can decommission some of the planes already in service and then re-commission them in the area of the event (for the cost of a few Bux). Once the event ends, you can shutter those airports and move the planes back into your main route, cash in hand.




Marsh: If there is a leg of your route that only bigger planes can take, pool jobs at the endpoints with smaller planes! Unloading a job in a city other than their start city will save them until you can pick them up again.

The only way to make it from Los Angeles to Honolulu is to use a class 2 plane. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't fill up a class 1 plane with passengers or cargo heading to Hawaii! Just fill it up and send them to Los Angeles. Once they land, they'll wait as layovers until you're ready to pick them up with a class 2 plane. Even better, you'll still earn the full value of the flight, not just the value of going from LA to Honolulu.


Marsh: Planes can be upgraded in three categories to give them slightly more range or speed, or make them a little cheaper to fly.

Upgrading planes can absolutely make your fleet more profitable, though you should be wary of how you upgrade, since it's liable to cost plenty of Bux. If one of your planes is just out of reach of a major airport, it might be a good idea to expand that plane's range by 5%, giving you that extra hop, skip, and jump. Just remember: Don't get attached to your planes. If you find yourself constantly needing to upgrade your fleet, it might be time for entirely new planes instead.



Marsh: You can save some Bux by collecting the three parts needed for a plane, then building it from the parts menu.

Even though you're given the option to buy whole planes in the market, you should always just buy parts. Buying three parts and putting them all together is always going to cost you fewer Bux than buying the whole plane in one go. Just be patient and keep checking the market, as the stock will change every 10 minutes or so.


Marsh: Sometimes it makes sense to close an existing airport to expand in other regions. Closing an airport gives you back half its cost and frees up construction of another airport.

This is a big one. Not only is it a good idea to expand into other regions, shutting down an airport ensures that no new jobs will request flying there. If you find that you keep sending jobs to Fairbanks but can't seem to get any decent jobs for the flight back, shut it down and expand into a larger airport. Which leads us to ...


Marsh: Saving up for a blue or red city can really change the game due to the much higher number of jobs available in them.

Class 1 airports are the smallest, marked by a black dot. Class 1 airports get the fewest number of jobs, which makes it tough to fill planes. The best use of these small airports, especially once you have a few major airports, is to use them as puddle-jumpers. A single Class 1 airport can connect two major airports (blue or red) across a country, letting smaller planes make the trip while giving them tons of jobs when they finally get there.




Marsh: Plane parts can be sent to friends (at a small cost) making plane crafting that much easier through trades or sheer generosity!

If you happen to have a friend who is considerably farther ahead in the game, they're likely to be sitting on a bunch of planes and parts they don't need. They can break down those planes into parts and then send the parts to you at a relatively small Bux cost, giving you a leg up in your early game. Just don't resort to begging, please.