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Now Boarding

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Rating: 4.5/5 (613 votes)
Comments (26) | Views (9,954)

Now Boarding

JohnBNow Boarding is a tycoon-style resource management game by Gabob where your job is to run an airport, overseeing everything from flight routes, which passengers go on which plane, and even where to put the soda machines! The daunting task of shuttling people across North America has been pared-down to a simple interface that's as easy as matching letters and clicking cities on a map. Now Boarding is remarkably scalable, meaning you can create as complex or simple of an experience as you desire, giving a world of options to those who wish it and nothing more than a simple time management game to those who don't.

nowboarding.gifBasic gameplay elements in Now Boarding include runways, boarding gates, a waiting area, and a map. Planes arrive on the runway and must be moved to an open gate in order to load it with passengers. Each person in the terminal has a letter that signifies his or her destination city. At first you'll only have a few airports to worry about, but as the game progresses that changes in a very big way. Drag and drop passengers onto planes, then send the craft back to the runway for liftoff.

Before a plane takes to the air, you must set its flight path. Your starting base is Chicago and passengers will have one of several destinations. Depending on who you put on the plane, simply click the city followed by the check mark to confirm the path. Sometimes you'll need to make multiple stops to drop passengers off at the correct airport, so plan your route carefully, as this becomes very important later in the game.

Between rounds you have the option of upgrading many elements of your airport, including the size of your planes and a handful of amenities that makes passengers more content to wait while you sort out their trips. This can be just as important as the main part of the game, as adding new destinations is key to increasing revenue, but it also makes the game much more frantic.

nowboarding2.gifAnalysis: Although it caters to the casual gamer in all of us, Now Boarding isn't afraid to push itself into complexity from time to time. The brilliant part is no matter how muddled things seem, you always have a straightforward goal to focus on: getting passengers to their destination. You don't have to buy fancy plants or hot dog stands, you don't have to have big jets, you don't even have to worry about criss-crossing flight paths all over the map. Just put people in seats and get on the runway, it's that simple. That is, unless you want it to be a bit more...

Perhaps one of Now Boarding's most appealing features it that it doesn't feel like your typical resource management game. From early on you have an enormous amount of freedom as to what you can do, what items you can buy/upgrade, and how you play the game. Sure, you can win the early levels without really trying very hard, but once you get into the swing of things, Now Boarding serves up a tremendous amount of challenge. And it's not just the fast-clicking kind of challenge, either, as you have to constantly plan and re-plan which passengers you load onto which planes, which cities each plane will visit and in what order, and deal with the occasional random passenger in a far away city needing to be transported across the country. In short, it's an exhilarating experience, and one that I find is new every time I pick up the game.

Play Now Boarding


Terribly addicting. Avoid if you value your sleep or sanity. I wish there was more depth, but what is there is, as I mentioned, quite addicting and entertaining for a few hours at least. My experience was only with the Flash version.


Well, I bought and have played the AIR (downloadable) version, too, and I was impressed. It isn't really "my" type of game - I'm not into clicking repetitively - but this game does a very good job of making me want to.

There is certainly more depth in the downloadable version, and more character (as there is more room to see things.)

It was a bit of an impulse purchase, and with my short attention span I hope I can make myself come back to it, but I think it was worth the purchase. Forgive my rambling, this state of mind (or lack thereof, of a mind, that is) is apparently what led me to the to purchase the game.

A few things are NEEDED: a windowed mode, a way to turn off sounds/adjust volume, pause feature, and, for the love of god, a SAVE button. Nothing irritates us gamers more than having to stick with a game until the end of a long level or quit the game and lose progress.


It's not documented anywhere, but if you hit ESC, the game exits fullscreen mode and runs in a normal window.

There's a mute button in the top right when playing the game (it's a little hard to see), but that button is not on the main menu for some reason.

Also, the game says it's saved after each month, and when I exit and come back, I can pick up at that month. There's no way to save in the middle of a month though.

Lastly, the game pauses when any of the management screens are open. During the middle of the month, the only one available is the 'Employees' tab, and if you click on it, the game is paused. It's another undocumented feature that isn't obvious.

Hope that helps!



I understand you can't change hubs in either version? I'd love to play with the geography more via hubs.

Deadl0ck August 9, 2008 8:35 AM

Wouldn't it be "Play the Demo" instead of download? seeing as it's a flash based web demo?


deadl0ck - The download button takes you to the page where you can download (install) the Adobe Air version.

It is also the page where you can play the Flash-based demo as well.

The Adobe Air installer requires a Flash-based button to do some platform detection and Flash Player version checking, and rather than include that within the review (which would have required changing some things for all pages of the site) we figured the way we have it would be sufficient.


After hitting ESC, you can't go back to the full version anymore, which is not good.
Also, you can not save in the free play mode, which is bad.


The downloadable one is pretty laggy when there's a lot of action going on. I would not buy it if it gets like that when there are lots of objects moving about the screen. I was also very surprised to see how different the flash version was from the downloadable version.



I hate these games where they expect you to pay for the "better" game.

Why can't it just be just as good online.


Some strong pros and cons on this game, I have to say.

One the one hand, I really like that it progresses from a time-management/tactics game towards a tycoon/strategy game as you play and the problems become more complex. This is something I have complained in the past that more time management games should consider. In fact, I'd love to see it go further in that direction. I've now played through career mode and part of Free Play, and I'm wishing for a way to set some planes on automatic routes, so they'd just go on flying some core formations while I fine-tuned the passenger handling on the more unusual routes. (It would be important to be able to take a plane off automatic again if I needed the resource, I think -- but even so, that would take the game play up yet a further level as the challenge became designing a set flight pattern that performed with optimum efficiency, and knowing how to tweak it at times of the year when traffic patterns changed.)

Cons: there are times when this just doesn't feel ready for prime-time. As other commenters have noted, it gets really laggy sometimes -- including times when I don't understand why because there aren't actually that many customers/destinations in play. Sometimes it hangs for so long I'm not sure whether it's crashed. Sometimes I click to move or zoom around the map and it doesn't seem to respond. Stuff like that. Very frustrating.

Occasionally there seems to be a bug in the AI, too, as I'll have a plane that's loaded and ready to go but my docking employee doesn't send it.

That said, there's some novel stuff going on in the design, and I like the concept.


I liked this game so much that I bought it immediately, however there are two bugs that affect gameplay badly:

1) If you quit a Free Play game, then continue it, you are awarded 50000 $, plus the money you already had. This really put me off the game, as it makes your efforts to earn money by linking more locations pointless

2) Despite (1) I have completed the first two Free Play scenarios, but I can't complete #3. I cannot promote my employees, no matter how many times I click, and all of them have full skills. What am I doing wrong?

I hope this two bugs get sorted out in release 1.1, because they are really show-stoppers.


Hi, Muttley, those 2 bugs were fixed in 1.0.3. It sounds like maybe you got an old version. Sorry about that!


Addictive game. 1st time I bought flash game :))

the same thing about "promotion of employees" - how to do that?

8 employees is definitely not enough for free play mode


Hi Tom, do I have to wait for release 1.1 or can I get a patch?


I have become addicted to this game :-)

Some points that would make it better...

Would be good to be able to use each mode and save the games that are already in play etc..ie..if you are in career mode, and want to change to freeplay, you can go back to career mode and continue your previous game.

I have version 1.0.3? and once all the employees earn their status etc you only seem to have the option to promote one employee (Madeline?) and none of the others (unless you have to be in freeplay only) but then the game ends and you have to start all over again.

Maybe having an option to actually expand the terminal itself and also once you have conquered all US states we can have International :-)

Still, love this game and just can't stop playing it.


I love the game and i bought it too. Unfortunately i can only play on my desktop PC and i am unable to get it running on my laptop PC. I guess that the serial is activated online and the screen does not realize when you have an "offline PC".


@Stefan: We had a hiccup with our domain name last night which brought the site down. I think it took our email with it. Everything is back online now, but your cached DNS entries might still be bad, which will prevent the game from activating on your machine until those expire (no later than tomorrow, most likely). Our support email is back up, so you can email us for further assistance if you need it.

@Muttley: 1.0.3 is out now with those bug fixes. No need to wait! Of course, in the amount of time it's been since you posted that question, you've probably already figured that out. =)

@Jo: In 1.1, career and free play save their games independently of each other like you want. Others have requested that too. Also, promotion is only in free play. 1.1 makes that process more clear...and it also includes 2 new episodes for the UK and Europe.

1.1 will be released early next week. Check out this blog post on our site for some info on what else is included...



Great Game!!!
It is addicting
I don't usually buy this type of game seeing as there is a million simple multi click games but this one caught my eye. Once you beat everything there isn't much left but fun and it's a great time waster

If you like aviation you will love it
especially if you like running an airline


I love the game, one of few times in my life that I actually felt the need to buy it! Great job, the purchased version was definitely worth my money.

I'm curious to know if there are any more world maps coming out in the future?


Can someone help me figure out how to promote people, and how to unlock the last character Oliver?


Seriously though...how do you promote an employee?


Is there any way to increase the capacity of the airport (it starts with 30)? I had two big airplanes coming in at one time and the game ended because of lack of airport capacity. It does not make sense!

Anonymous October 14, 2009 6:47 AM

I bought the full version, but I can't find the serial number. Can someone help me? Does it take a while for the transaction to go through? I got a receipt from Paypal and tried to use the receipt number, but that didn't work.

[Edit: Did you check your spam folder? Sometimes emails get sent there by mistake. What site did you buy the game from? You should contact customer support for the site where you purchased the game. -Jay]


I've been trying to buy this game on PayPal but it won't work from the vendors page. Gabob obviously doesn't want my money.

Borrego6165 April 2, 2011 4:48 AM

I have bought the full version, and with a couple updates for adobe the game works really fast and does not slow down much with hundreds of people on the map.

The full version DOES include a pause, sound-adjuster and full & windowed screen mode. It's also addicting, so don't moan about it if you're only playing the free versions.


I'm confused! All I get, after both short movies and the page with the guy and the bags falling out of the airplane, is a white screen under the "now boarding" logo that says LOADING. Nothing else! I'm using Google Chrome- is it going to load after hours of waiting or did I do something wrong?

[There should be a loading bar in the bottom grey portion of the window that fills up and then takes you the main menu. It's working for me on Chrome 14.0.835.202 on Mac OS 10.5.8 and Flash Player Try updating Chrome. -Jay]


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