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Pocket Planes Strategy Guide: Tips and Tricks

Monday, June 18th, 2012 by

Learning the ins and outs of Pocket Planes may feel a little daunting at first. Whether you’re a new player or someone looking for some advanced tips and tricks, our handy Pocket Planes strategy guide will set you on the right course to success. Learn how to get more bux, more money, and more overall efficiency out of your fleet.

CHOOSING YOUR STARTING LOCATION

Don’t sweat this decision too much; it’s not terribly important where you begin. Choose a location that seems most interesting to you – you’ll be spending the majority of your early flight time here until your global network expands later on.

Every available starting area has a good mix of large and small cities, both of which are crucial to your operation. You can’t go wrong!

PLAN YOUR EXPANSION ACCORDINGLY

Every time you gain a level, you’ll be able to buy a new airport in a city of your choosing. Resist the urge to purchase an airport in some exotic, distant locale; early on, your planes will have limited range and buying a faroff waypoint will just be a waste of money. Instead, choose cities that add to the length of your network but are close enough to comfortably reach. Chances are you won’t be able to afford setting up shop in the larger cities yet, so don’t be afraid to establish a presence in the littler places until you have more money to invest.

Once you’ve amassed a bunch of planes and have some Class 2 aircraft, you may consider shutting down  littler airports and focus on buying new airports in larger cities. Class 2 aircraft cannot land in these tiny airports anyway, and they typically produce less jobs.

Class 2 airports are denoted by a blue dot, and Class 3 airports are denoted by a red dot. Remember this when purchasing airports in new cities.

PLANES: BUILDING VS. BUYING

To add planes to your fleet, you’ll need to buy them or build them out of spare parts. It takes three matching parts to build any model of plane – an engine, a control deck, and a body. Once you have all the parts necessary to build a specific model, you can combine them (for a small bux fee) and, for less than it would have cost if bought outright, you’ll have a brand-spanking new aircraft! Building planes instead of purchasing them can save you a ton of bux in the long run, so it’s often worth the work.

Building a plane will require patience – finding the pieces you need is usually determined by dumb luck. You can get a single random part whenever opening a new airport, and you can check the ever-changing marketplace when looking for specific pieces. If the parts you need aren’t showing up for sale, don’t fret. The marketplace inventory changes frequently, so come back in ten minutes or so and see what’s available then.

You can always buy completed planes to save yourself the work of collecting parts, but expect to pay up to twice as much doing so. Sometimes it’s worth buying a fully priced top-of-the-line model, though, versus trying to complete a mediocre plane on the cheap.

THE 25% BONUS

When a plane of is loaded up with multiple items all going to the same destination, you get a 25% fare bonus. This can really help to jack up your earnings for that particular flight, so always try to make this happen whenever possible. This is most easily accomplished when departing from larger cities, as they usually have the best job selection.

With planes that only have two or three holds, it’s pretty easy to find enough things going to the same city. But with larger planes, it can be tough. You may consider loading up a plane with as much matching stuff as possible, then waiting until new jobs are available to see if you can round out the flight with more people/stuff also going to the same place. Check how long the wait for new jobs is; if it’s less than one minute, then it’s worth it to see.

You could bring people and cargo in from other cities and do some strategic layovers, but it usually isn’t worth the trouble, at least not early in the game.

GRAB COINS AND BUX OUT OF THE AIR

Once all your planes are in the air, there’s not much to do outside of browsing through menus and stats. One productive alternative is to grab the money that goes flying by your airborne planes. Every few seconds or so, you’ll see a coin floating by in the sky that you can collect by tapping it. Smaller coins are worth $1 while the bigger ones are worth $10. Every now and then, you’ll see a precious green buck swing by; make sure to grab it! You never know when these things are going to pop up, so always be ready to snag them.

It turns out that the faster your plane can travel, the faster coins and bux will fly by. So be sure to follow the plane with the highest MPH. Thanks, st8ordie!

SELL THINGS YOU DON’T NEED

If collecting parts and building planes is just more work than you’re willing to front, then you can liquidate any parts you come across for cash. You can also scrap any decommissioned planes into parts and sell them too.

You can also squeeze out a good amount of cash when closing airports, too; approximately half of what you paid for them originally. When Class 2 and Class 3 aircraft become available, you won’t be able to land them in some of your smaller cities, so it’s worth considering selling those airports at that time.

UPGRADE PLANES AND AIRPORTS

Upgrading a plane will set you back some bux, but you can improve its profitability by doing so. There are three parts of a plane you can upgrade: The fuel tanks, the engine, and the carbon fiber (weight). Upgrading the fuel tanks will increase the plane’s range, allowing it to travel farther without having to stop in out of the way places. Upgrading the engine will increase the plane’s speed, allowing it to reach its destination faster. Upgrading the carbon fiber aspect of the plane will reduce its weight and lower the operating cost to fly that plane. Upgrading can only be done when a plane is docked at an airport.

Upgrading an airport can be done by tapping the flight tower icon that appears at the bottom of the screen when viewing that airport. It can be expensive, but airport upgrades increase the amount of available jobs and layover slots in their respective cities, making them more ripe for profit overall.

Because of the expense involved with plane and airport upgrades, it’s not recommended to dump resources into them early in the game. You’ll need your bux for building planes and you’ll want coins to buy new airports across the globe. Upgrades are best done later in the game, once you’ve gotten past the hump of establishing your network.

PARTICIPATE IN GLOBAL EVENTS WHENEVER POSSIBLE

Check the events log and see if a global event is happening in a city near you (this is the one at the top of the list, highlighted in light blue).  If so, try purchasing an airport in that city (if you don’t already have one) so you can participate in that event and collect a reward when the event wraps up. You can get better rewards by joining up with a high-performing flight team. Flight teams are like clans, and joining is as easy as punching in the name of the team you want in on.

These events occur for a three-day period and when they end, another will begin in a different part of the world. The bigger your network, the more of these events you’ll be able to join, so keep expanding!

JOIN THE RIGHT FLIGHT CREW AND GET MORE BUX

Get on the right flight team and you can nab a ton of bucks, and sometimes other prizes as well. Whenever one of the competitive global events is complete, the highest flight crews on the leaderboard are showered with obscene amounts of bux. While you could certainly join the DELTAATTACK flight team if you wished (you saucy beast), I would recommend that you joined up with the top team instead. Right now, that’s TOUCHARCADE.

Join the TOUCHARCADE flight crew and the next time a global event concludes, you are guaranteed to the most bang for your bux. Don’t horse around with anyone else, this is the easiest and best way to get free bux.

PLEASE NOTE: Just joining the flight team isn’t enough to share in the spoils – you also have to participate in the global event to earn a reward, which means you must do some special deliveries to that city during the event. When these special jobs appear, you’ll be able to identify them by their light blue color.

TIPS & TRICKS

  • Personalize your planes: Pocket Planes lets you paint and name your aircraft; take advantage of these features to better keep track of your fleet.
  • Go short: Sometimes it’s better to deliver short distances, especially when you can get that 25% bonus. The profit margin will be pretty good and your plane will touch down much sooner, meaning less wait and more fun.
  • Always go for the bux: Whenever you see a job that pays in bux instead of coins, take it! Your profit will suffer, but since bux are worth about 500 coins each when exchanged, it’s almost always worth it. Which reminds me…
  • Consider exchanging bux for coins: When you need a few extra thousand to build or upgrade an airport, bux can get you there faster. The more bux you exchange, the higher the conversion rate will be, although don’t expect to get much more than 500 coins per buck.
  • Straight routes pay better: Maximize your earnings by choosing cargo that can be delivered with the least amount of wasted travel – for instance, the straighter the line of your route, the less you’ll spend on travel costs and the more you’ll earn in profit.
  • Strategic distancing: When selecting a route, the closer you can keep all your destinations to the end point, the more profit you will get for that trip.
  • Report your glitch:  There have been an unlucky few complaining about awful glitches in Pocket Planes, totally game-ruining stuff like losing massive amounts of bux for no apparent reason. If anything catastrophic happens to you, write a review in the app store detailing your problem; it seems like a good way of getting NimbleBit’s attention and makes a fix that much more likely down the road.
  • Late game strategy: Our friend Hans Christian has pioneered a very detailed and effective late game strategy here. If you’re looking to peak things out, be sure to read it. Thanks Hans!

About the Author

Mark A. Brooks uses the A. initial in his name so as to seperate himself from the teeming legions of other Mark Brookses (there are at least 65,000 in the state of Michigan alone). Keep up with him on twitter, because why not. @unoriginalG

Mark A. Brooks has written 642 posts on Delta Attack
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  • hans christian

    I would add that at least when starting out, my top performers are my two hold planes because it’s easier to find two passengers/cargo going to the same city than trying to match three or more. In that regard, I’m trying to build up a Wallaby fleet, at least until I can open up airports in the bigger cities.

    • Mark A. Brooks

      A fleet of Wallabys can do no wrong!

  • Adrian Jordan

    Game is good, these tips help, I always use to just aim for the most paying furthest flight, then I realized about these tips and its helping me. Thanks. But is upgrading really worth it?

    • Mark A. Brooks

      Sure it is! But early in the game, you’ll probably want to spend bux on building and buying planes instead of upgrading them, and you’ll want to use your coins to buy airports instead of upgrading those. At some point, you’ll hit a plateau where it makes sense to upgrade. But until then, I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

  • R Unruh

    Do you know if I upgrade a Level 2 plane’s weight, can I land at a Level 1 airport?

    • Mark A. Brooks

      That would be nice, but Class 2 planes cannot land at any of the small airports, only Class 2 airports. Same goes for Class 3.

  • JLF

    I’ve noticed that when I fill a plane and send it flying to its destination and am expecting a profit, I’ll see coins deducted instead of added. Why is this and what am I doing wrong? Thanks!

    • Mark A. Brooks

      Hmm. Sometimes, if you have a multiple stop route that sends you in all kinds of wacky directions, the travel costs can outweigh the earnings.

      But if you’re talking about sending to one location, then you should be netting a profit, unless you’re flying a larger plane without filling up the holds first.

      Are you saying that it’s actually projecting profit, but you lose money when the flight wraps up? If that’s what’s happening, then I can’t explain it. Sorry I can’t be of more help here.

      • RJ

        I stopped playing when I noticed that a certain amount was being deducted after I pressed FLY. Then I tried to do some math by flying some cargo and people with one of my planes. I took note of the projected profit and the amount I will be paid- and noticed that besides the initial deduction after pressing the FLY button (which I could not make sense of), the amount I got after landing was significantly less than the payoff+profit that was “promised” at the start. Any reason for this happening? I did not notice the deductions at the start but started noticing it when i reached level 9 and purchased my first Class 2 plane. Thanks for any help, I do want to get back playing.

        • Anonymous

          The problem is that when you press fly, the cost of operating the flight gets deducted. Then, when you land the full profit comes in.

          Hope that helps!

    • Shake

      JLF: hi, you’re seeing the operating cost being deducted when you press fly.

      • Mark A. Brooks

        Ah, I overlooked that possibility. Thanks for helping out!

        • Shake

          No worries, you only get paid out once the flight lands. I only just started to play this and I’m hooked! Novelty of the 16-bit graphics has warn off however.

  • st8ordie

    “Grab Coins and Bux Out of The Air” – I’d also like to add that the faster your plane is going, the faster coins and bucks will appear. So make sure you’re viewing the plane with the highest mph to get the most out of your time.

    • Mark A. Brooks

      That’s rather awesome, thanks! I’ll add that to the guide once I confirm it.

      • sean

        yup its true, first thing I noticed when I got the pearjet was how fast the money showed up when flying.

    • http://www.mungermack.com James

      I’ve found that the margin of error for grabbing money from the air is pretty high. What I’ll do is hold my phone lengthwise, then alternate my middle and index fingers tapping above and below the plane around the propeller. That way I can get the money while doing something else with my actual attention span.

  • http://pocketplanes.wordpress.com tekn0wledg

    Good stuff. There are some good tip videos on YouTube as well.

  • hans christian

    Finally got to the point where I’m making trans-Atlantic flights and have a handful of Class 3 planes. If you’re the kind of gamer who likes to figure things out on your own, stop reading here. Otherwise, read on for some tips:

    1) Los Angeles and Tokyo are the two furthest apart Class 3 cities between which one can fly in the game. You should be aiming to set up a route between these two cities from the beginning of the game to set up regular big payouts
    2) While you’re working your way up to Level 20 and your first Class 3 plane, the Fogbuster, you can make this transatlantic flight using various upgraded Class 2 planes along the following route: Los Angeles – Mexico City/Guatemala – Lima – Recife – Kinshasa – Riyadh – Delhi – Chengdu – Shanghai – Tokyo (setting up this route is likely the emotional high point in this game, at least it was for me)
    3) After you get a Class 3 plane, you can create more direct routes, lowering your operating costs
    4) If you’re holding off on upgrading airports, you can’t afford to avoid it, IMO, once you have a Class 3 plane. You are definitely shooting for the 25% same destination bonus in loading up your Class 3′s and you end up waiting and waiting and waiting to do this with your big expensive plane just sitting on the tarmac. While the airport upgrade doesn’t eliminate the waiting, it theoretically increases the odds of getting the particular passenger/cargo you’re waiting for.
    5) Speaking of upgrades, the minute I create my planes I upgrade at least the carbon fiber to Level 3 if I can afford it. The sooner you lower your operating costs for flying the plane, the more savings/profit you enjoy over time. I also usually max out the Fuel Tank upgrade for most planes simultaneously.
    6) Smaller capacity planes play an essential role later in the game by allowing you to pick up the big money passengers/cargo and shunting them to a Class 3 or Class 2 city from which Class 2 and 3 planes can make the big money transatlantic flights. This practice, more than the airport upgrade, helps you proactively set up big money flights by helping you set up your same destination bonus and reducing your waiting time. So, I wouldn’t necessarily sell off all your Class 1 plane parts just as soon as you start seeing Class 2 parts and planes become available (same for Class 2 parts once Class 3 parts/planes become available)

    • hans christian

      In my last tip, I intended to say “… allowing you to pick up the big money passengers/cargo FROM CLASS 1 CITIES and shunting them to Class 2 and 3 cities from which transatlantic flights are possible.”

    • Mark A. Brooks

      This is stellar advice; so useful I had to link to your comment from the guide itself. Thanks!

    • Lan

      i just did a 4-point transatlantic trip from tokyo/manila/seoul/shanghai/ to new york by having a pearjet, traveling from tokyo/manila/seoul/shanghai-bangkok-riyadh-london/paris-new york, all i did is to upgrade the pearjet’s max range

    • Luke

      I found that maximising the layovers of London & Paris – São Paulo & bueno aires – Tokyo & Seoul and using a class 2 planes like a birchcraft to layover from the nearest city works well for loading big planes. I’m currently level 28 making 300,000 plus. I focused on taking only passengers so my layovers say organised, sequina p seem to make 10,000 in a 1 hour trip.

      I take all my buxs to near by class 2 airports, the costs back and forth eventually dosent cost my seeing on how much you make in full loads.

    • Dave

      A much easier way from LA to Tokyo is to go from Los Angeles-New York-London-Tehran-Seoul-Tokyo with Aeroeagle (upgraded)

  • Marco M.

    Here’s the strategy I went for. It’s not the best, but I’m surviving.

    At the beginning, I chose North America (Detroit). I bought some airports like Montreal and Quebec. Further on, I made a bad mistake. I bought an airport in Calgary which wasn’t in range of any of my planes! Avoid this! I then bought some airports to get there, but still: bad idea. The way to go is downwards: I bought Boston, Washington, Atlanta, then Miami. I filled in some of the gaps for shorter flights: Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, and Toronto. I got rid of all the airports branching to west Canada. Every time I bought a new station I removed 1 from over there, and now got rid of all my class 1 airports. I began buying some class 2 planes. Stick with some high-class class 1 planes (kangaroo, anan, so on..) and began to purchase my very first class 2 planes: (birchcraft, equinox). I currently have an airport in Singapore for the computer failure flight crew event. I bought 3 airports across the way, and sacrificed 2 of my planes to put over there. I’m beginning to make my journey down to South America, but it’s tough. As of this moment, I’m upgrading all my airports (beginning with smallest population not including the Singapore area) so I can get the 25% bonus.
    ATM (level 14) you don’t need to worry so much about upgrades for your plane. Those will come in handy afterwards.

    Here are the general tips you need to take into consideration (probably taken from other posts):
    1) Don’t be scared to close down airports, there’s a better chance then of getting the 25% bonus.

    2) Work it into your daily schedule. If you get on often, you make short flights, you don’t go on often, longer flights.

    3) Try to make a straight path to your destination.

    4) Join #toucharcade for tons of bux.

    5) Lastly, don’t be afraid to spend some money on bux! They’re relatively cheap compared to some other games!

    Read Hans’ post (very informative).
    Give me any strategies if you like, and if you have any questions I probably won’t respond considering I just found this site now XD

    bye bye

  • Bryan

    I cannot agree more with the need to purchase airports within your range. I started in the Southwest America area (Phoenix, Las Vegas, and San Diego) and purchased the airport in Easter Island, thinking it would be kinda cool. It was a waste of money until a little later in the game. I then found out that if you purchase the (somewhat) low cost airports in Oaxaca and Cuzco, and fully upgrade the fuel tank in the Supergopher, you can make the flight. There also seem to be a lot of “bitzens” (I think that’s what they’re called) offering bux to fly there. So it worked out in the end.

    P.S. If the coins and bux come by faster in faster planes, i can’t imagine what it’s like with the Starship and Concorde.

  • kmay

    I have to disagree with just leaving a bug/complaint in app store review. If you have a true bug, developers may want to contact you to find out what you were doing to reproduce the bug. If the app store is the only place you whine about it they have no way of contacting you.

  • James

    On the leader boards, how can people be on billions of miles on their longest flight and billions of coins for their most profitable flight?! It’s obviously cheating, they should be removed to let people who are playing the game fairly to get higher on the score board!!

    • Stegosuarus

      Maybe there Making there planes go continuously in circles to get the longest flight

  • Stegosuarus

    I love pocket planes and I recommend it, I’ve only Been playing it for 3 days and I’ve already got 2 cool planes called pearjets if your at a lower rank then 14 add me on game center if you would like free planes my game center name is the same as my username here ^^^^
    -oli

  • Stegosuarus

    Also a hint that a plane with bigger weight costs more money to fly to somewhere

  • Oli the plague

    Join my crew, it is dedicated to to delta attack
    The crew name is deltaattack

    • Mark A. Brooks

      Oli, you talked me into it. Let’s crew it up.

  • Nauron

    This is what I do for my planes (all class 1):

    I fill up a plane starting with the highest paying jobs, and I try to get as much matching jobs as I can, I make sure that my non matching jobs won’t send me zigzagging all over the place. I STOP at my first destination, and try to get more passengers that match some of what I have.

    Example:
    Kangaroo-M
    Start at Panama City, 2 passengers for St. Luis, 1 box for Havana, 1 box for New Orleans.
    Stop at Havana, get box for St. Luis.
    Stop at New Orleans, get box for St. Luis. 25%.bonus.
    Stop at St. Luis and start over.

    Sometimes you’ll find yourself not getting a full matching plane, and just never reaching a final destination, that’s fine, you’ll be making lots of money.

    Never ever send a plane for one point to the next with an empty spot. Make sure your planes are always full.

    • Sietse

      Thanks for this very helpful advice, I did not think about it that way yet!! You helped me so much with this :). The other guides are good as well but they are kind of pointing out the obvious.

  • Nicole

    How do you stop a plane (as stated in Nauron’s post)?
    Is there a ratio of plans to airports you should try for? I am level 12.

  • Michael

    Any thoughts on only using P or C planes as opposed to M planes? Is this a good strategy?

    • Anonymous

      I kind of like to use m planes just cause u have a better chance of getting 25% bonus

      • thegodcraftmaster

        But once you get to planes with cap. Of 6 and over it doesnt matter because yo have to use some statygic layovers anyway to get the 25% bonus

    • Hannah

      If you can afford it, buy one P and one C. If you can only afford one plane, buy an M. It’s important to keep your cargo/passenger rate balanced.

  • Ben

    I am on Level 21 now and have 16 planes made up of 10 kangaroos, five aeroeagles and now one fogbuster.
    I started in South America and moved up into North America. I also have spread into Europe with airp[orts in UK, SPain, France and Germany as well as Algiers. I find going up towards the North Pole with the Kangaroos was a good way to make flights between Europe and America with the upgraded Kangaroos. So go mainland Europe to Glasgow then Reykjavik, Nuuk, Goose Bay and down to Chicago, Boston etc.
    Also you can fly Fortaleza in South America to Monrovia in Africa for the shortest Atlantic crossing and then on to Algiers and up into Europe that way as well.

    • thegodcraftmaster

      Thanks for the advise

    • ols1

      the north pole isn’t a part of the game? I think you mean Greenland

  • thegodcraftmaster

    Can you give me some tips on how to level up so i can build more airports faster? I have tons of money but cant use it cause its taking too long to get to the next level

  • thegodcraftmaster

    But once you get to planes with cap. Of 6 and over it doesnt matter because yo have to use some strategic layovers anyway to get the 25% bonus

  • N5_in

    Hi Mark

    I m on lvl 14 got a fogbuster as a gift, can I still fly before reaching lvl 20.

    Cheers!

  • reezewahab

    i got a Concorde as a gift, it’s bloody expensive to run!!!! i just parked it in the hangar……

  • sinusnode

    if anyone wants to frieend me on gamecenter im sinusnode