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GTA Online: Smuggler’s Run Guide

The best cargo types and bonuses for successful Hangar smuggling missions.

Between the various new planes available via the hangar, the new missions and all the other content introduced in Smuggler’s Run, it’s a lot to take in. But don’t worry, we’re here to help!

The Hangars

These are your gateway to the content of Smuggler’s Run, as almost everything the update has to offer can be accessed from one of these special properties. If you don’t buy one, you won’t see any of the new DLC.

There are five total hangars to choose from, two located at the Los Santos International Airport and three scattered around Fort Zancudo. The prices for these properties range between GTA$ 1,200,000 and 3,250,000, so this is clearly intended for more experienced players with more than a few dollars to their name.

When picking a hangar, the typical factors when deciding on a mission property don’t rightly apply.

While in the cases of the executive offices, clubhouses, warehouses and bunkers, location is a major factor, the fact that there are only two locations this time around more or less eliminates this criterion altogether. Usually, we’d suggest picking one that is less frequented, however all players interested in the content of this update appear to be amassing around both these two locations.

Within a location, the only difference between the options is size, really. If you buy the more expensive hangar, you’ll be able to fit more planes. Provided you have the cash for a hangar in Zancudo, we suggest to go for that, since purchasing a hangar there will grant you, and by extension, your associates and bodyguards “clearance”, meaning entering the area won’t slap you with a wanted level. Not only is this hugely convenient on its own, it also allows for the stealing of military vehicles without drawing heat.

The exact prices of the hangars are as follows:

  • LSIA A17: GTA$ 1,200,000
  • LSIA 1: GTA$ 1,525,000
  • Zancudo 3499: GTA$ 2,650,000
  • Zancudo 3497: GTA$ 2,085,000
  • Zancudo A2: GTA$ 3,250,000

The hangars feature tiered customization options. You can pick from 9 different interior styles, the prices of which range between GTA$ 100,000 and 320,000. The system is tiered because based on which price category of styles you pick the further options will be unlocked. If you pick one of the cheaper variants, you’ll only be able to pick from one of 2 lighting styles, whereas owners of the more luxurious interiors will have a selection of 4.

Beyond these, you can select  from 9 types of floor graphics (GTA$ 95,000 -200,000), 3 types of office furniture (GTA$ 195,000 – 280,000) and two variants of living quarters (GTA$  235,000 – 375,000). These quarters will allow you to spawn, sleep and change outfits in your hangar. Notably, the hangars are the first mission specific properties with no gun locker option.

The final upgrade option is pretty much a necessity, so feel free to add an extra GTA$ 1,150,000 to the price tag of each hangar and pick based on that. This is the workshop upgrade, which will let you customize planes in your hangar and, in a rather revolutionary move, turn Pegasus flying vehicles into personal vehicles that can be customized and saved, too.

The customization of the new Smuggler’s Run planes is one of the main draws of this update. You can add all kinds of upgrades to them like flares, countermeasures and more – but we’ll discuss this in detail later on.

The ability to turn Pegasus vehicles into personal vehicles might be the more interesting feature, however. You can fly in any wings ordered from Pegasus, including things like a Luxor or a Hydra, repaint it and save it as a personal vehicle. The bonus of doing this is ensuring that the vehicle will spawn closer to you when called, and getting a replacement will be quicker. Naturally, in the case of the Hydra, this is more troubling than exciting.

Oh, and buying a hangar as another added bonus – you get a free Cuban 800 with it.

The Planes (and Helicopter)

While the hangars are a necessary first step to unlocking the rest of the content in Smuggler’s Run, everyone is here for the planes, really. The DLC added 7 new customizable aerial vehicles with more on the way via weekly updates – this includes the Hunter and a purchasable version of the Lazer.

The various new vehicles, which include a helicopter and an ultralight, all fill very different roles so picking one which is the ‘best’ is folly. Some are fighters, some are bombers, while some are only good for sightseeing or sneaking about (ie actual smuggling). We’ll look at them individually to give you an idea of what to expect.


Being based off the MiG-15, this one was bound to be a fan favorite bird. It costs a fair amount, with a full price of GTA$ 4,788,000 and a discounted price of GTA$ 3,600,000, however it makes up for the costs.

The Molotok is really, really fast. This is one of, if not the, fastest planes in the game right now. One of the best features of it are the air brakes which allow it to still be highly maneuverable in spite of its high speed, making the Molotok a fearsome enemy in a dogfight. Armed with machine guns and homing missiles, this really is the top dog when it comes to fighters.

The thing about it, however, is that it won’t be a preferred griefer vehicle due to the speed making locking onto ground targets difficult. Lacking bombs, it is mainly designed to do battle against other aerial vehicles.

With countermeasures added, this plane will easily dodge incoming missiles as well, making it a hard opponent to beat. Naturally the skill of the pilots is also important, but the stats definitely work in the Molotok’s favor.


The Starling is pretty much the opposite of the Molotok in almost every way, except in the fact that it’s a solid and effective vehicle. The slow bomber is a prime weapon against ground targets, as the small size and slow speed allow it to get in close and make precision strikes with bombs and homing missiles.

Thanks to the burst of speed granted by the rocket boost, you can get out of harm’s way when things get hairy, meaning it often pays to take a risk and get in close with the bombs only to boost away into safety. That said, once the boost is gone you’re back to gliding speeds and the Starling isn’t going to hold its own against other planes better geared towards dogfighting. At full price it costs GTA$ 3,657,500, which is reduced to GTA$ 2,750,000 at discount.


If the Molotok and Starling are two extremes, then the Rogue is the middle ground between the two. It’s a better fighter than the Starling but not as good as the Molotok, whereas it’s a better bomber than the Molotok (which isn’t a bomber at all), but not as good as the Starling.

What sets this apart from those two planes is the passenger seat, allowing two players to fly around in it instead of just the pilot.  It’s fairly quick and can hold its own in a fight if need be. This is a good choice when you know you’ll be facing enemies both in the skies and on the ground. The Rogue costs GTA$ 1,596,000 at full price and GTA$ 1,200,000 when discounted, making it one of the cheaper options and a good starter plane.


The most unique of the planes added in this DLC, the massive Tula isn’t quite the utilitarian superplane we thought it would be, but it’s still a highly functional multi-crew vehicle. While not the best choice for taking down other planes, if you have a gunner to lay down cover fire and a co-pilot to fire countermeasures to save you from missiles, you won’t be getting shot down anytime soon either. The Tula will set you back GTA$ 5,173,700, making it the most expensive plane at full price. The discount price is easier to stomach at GTA$ 3,890,000.

Something to keep in mind is that the Tula is only effective when you actually have three people to fly it. On your own, you cannot use the weapons nor the countermeasures, and the slow speed will make you an easy target for anyone flying a nimble fighter.

The VTOL capability makes this a particularly fun plane to use for bombing, as you can harass ground targets with highly precise strikes. If upgraded with the take-off boost, it also becomes a neat getaway vehicle, as long as the people you’re getting away from don’t have planes.


The Ultralight lives up to its name in all measures, including cost. At a full price of GTA$ 665,000 and discount price of GTA$ 500,000, this is the cheapest aerial vehicle of the update. The small, unarmored and unarmed glider is basically just a light frame, wings and an engine without any other frills.

The Ultralight is rather slow and very easy to destroy. This this is mainly designed for peaceful sightseeing at most, since any practical application of it would likely result in failure and a burning wreckage.

However, in GTA Online, minding your own business is hardly guarantee that people won’t come after you looking for beef. That’s why the Ultralight’s most useful upgrade will eliminate the minimap blip of the vehicle when flying at low speeds. This way you can enjoy the views of the game while also not being destroyed by marauding Hydras.


The Havok helicopter has been getting some flak online for being a weaker, less useful variant of the Buzzard. In truth, this GTA$ 2,300,900 (GTA$ 1,730,000 when discounted) helicopter is a much faster variant of the Buzzard. We’re not speaking jet engine speeds, but near enough.

The reason for the Havok’s existence is the multiple seats, meaning this missile toting vehicle is a great way for you and your squad to get in and get out fast while covering yourselves with homing rockets. When push comes to shove, however, the Havok isn’t all there.

Alpha Z-1

The Alpha Z-1 is one of the less interesting planes in the lineup. It’s a quick single seater. That’s it. No weapons, but plenty of speed. It does its job as a getaway vehicle and can take some punishment with armor upgrades, but even then your best bet is not being in range of whoever you managed to piss off.

The Z-1 stands out by virtue of being the single fastest aerial vehicle in the game. This thing will outfly Lazers and Hydras, too. All that speed comes at the price of GTA$ 2,121,350 or GTA$1,595,000 when discounted.

Trade Price

We’ve listed the discount prices of each vehicle, but how do you unlock said discount? In Smuggler’s Run, you don’t have special vehicle-specific missions like in Gunrunning or Import/Export to get the preferred price, instead completing smuggling missions will sequentially unlock the lower prices. The more missions you do, the more planes will become cheaper. Discount progression is as follows:

  • Ultralight: 3 missions
  • Rogue: 6 missions
  • Alpha-Z1: 9 missions
  • Havok: 12 missions
  • LF-22 Starling: 15 missions
  • V-65 Molotok: 18 missions
  • Tula: 21 missions
  • Bombushka: 24 missions
  • NX-25: 27 missions
  • Mogul: 30 missions
  • Pyro: 33 missions
  • Seabreeze: 36 missions
  • Nokota: 39 missions
  • Hunter: 42 missions

The Smuggling Business

So, you’ve got your hangar and you’ve got your planes. Now, it’s time to make some dirty cash. The smuggling business is based on the same framework as CEO work, meaning you need to steal cargo, take it back to your hangar, and then sell in bulk. There are different types of produce, which determine the difficulty of the sourcing missions as well as the selling price of the goods.

Hangar Bonuses

Your hangar has a maximum capacity of 50 units. You can mix and match the types, however the best course of action is to homogenize your stock as larger stacks of like cargo add bonuses to the payout. The types with the best sell prices are meds and narcotics, and if you stack 50 of either type, you get a 75% bonus.

There are other stackable bonuses as well:

  • 5 crates of Tobacco & Alcohol/ Counterfeit goods: +5%
  • 10 crates of Arts & Antiques / Animal materials / Jewelry & Gemstones: +12%
  • 25 crates of Narcotics / Medical Supplies / Chemicals: +35%

Here’s a detailed chart giving you a rundown of cooldowns, profits and bonuses courtesy or Reddit user Castlevania1995.

You get minute bonuses for playing with members of your MC or organization, and playing in sessions with rival MCs and organizations, but these are single digit percentages so they don’t mean much.

To get the most profit out of smuggling, you should always sell full 50 unit stacks of either narcotics or meds. While we said the bonuses for running with associates or MC members is minimal, sourcing and delivering solo carries major risk, so you should have backup anyway – and hey, money is money.

There are several types of sourcing missions, with each mission lasting a maximum of 20 minutes, but realistically you’ll complete them in far less time. You get one unit of cargo per missions, so in the worst case scenario you’ll build up a full hangar of 50 units of cargo over 16 hours of gameplay, but don’t worry, it won’t take that much for anyone.

Hangar Payouts / Cargo Value

On their own, all forms of cargo provide the same minimum payout: GTA$ 10,000 per unit which theoretically would add up to at least GTA$ 500,000 for a full haul. Looking grim, right? Well here’s the thing – the type of cargo determines the percentage bonuses earned for bulk sales. Different types have different tiers for bonuses, and the more you amass, the bigger the end payout.

As such, the best way to make cash via smuggling is to build up bulk lots of 50 units of the best cargo, which are Medical Supplies, Chemicals or Narcotics. A full 50 unit haul of either of these three offers a payout of GTA$ 850,000, as opposed to the GTA$ 700K to GTA$ 750k from the other types.

One of the best things about smuggling is that if vehicles carrying cargo are destroyed, the cargo is not destroyed with them. It survives and is dropped, allowing you to pick it up again instead of instantly losing everything you worked for.

The sourcing missions don’t force you to use the vehicles provided, so you can call in or steal anything preferable. When delivering goods to your hangar, it’s enough if you drop the cargo on the top of it, as this will register as delivery.

A good way to keep the heat off you is knowing that enemies always spawn in pairs. If you can handle one of them, kill the other but allow their buddy to live in order to prevent two new enemies from spawning. Additionally, if you’re being chased by non-Buzzard helicopters, try to snipe the gunner out of it without killing the pilot. This way the vehicle itself will still be present preventing a new one from spawning, but it would be unable to deal damage.

The truth about smuggling is that the money isn’t the best. Import/Export with a cocaine side-business is still the single most effective way to make money. The only reason to run some smuggling missions is to unlock the discounts on the planes. Of course, the money is still pretty good, so you’ll be racking up cash along the way, but when it comes down to pure stats, smuggling isn’t the best way to get rich.

Something to keep in mind when you’re on the ground – due to the countermeasures introduced in the game, using the handheld flare-gun will also work to deflect incoming missiles.

Additional Content

Smuggler’s Run isn’t all about running. The DLC added two new cars, the Vapid Retinue (GTA$ 615,000) and the Grotti Visione (GTA$ 2,250,000). Neither vehicles are game changers, which is a tad surprising given the price tag of the Visione, and will most likely only interest die-hard collectors or people who like the way they look.

Beyond the two cars, a battle royale-esque Adversary Mode has also been added to the game. GTA Online’s Battlegrounds Motor Wars sees players dropped into an arena of sorts with nothing but the starting pistol. Weapon pickups are strewn about the area and the map shrinks with each passing minute. The goal is to be the last player standing. Bombushka Run and Stockpile were added in the weeks after launc.

A good technique in Motor Wars is to go after less popular weapon pickups and then hang back, allowing the other players to pick each other off. While this means giving your opponents an opportunity to grab better weapons, chances are they will be lower on ammo and damaged by the time you get to them near the end of the match.

Smuggler’s Run packs a whole lot of content and the focus on aerial vehicles will certainly shake up the status quo of GTA Online. With these tips, you’ll be dominating the smuggling scene of Los Santos while flying around in tricked out planes. If you have any tips of your own to add, feel free to sound off in the comment section.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Smuggler’s Run in GTA 5?

Smuggler’s Run is a major update for GTA Online that focuses on smuggling operations. It introduces new gameplay content centered around aircraft-related activities and smuggling.

How to start Smuggler’s Run in GTA 5?

To start Smuggler’s Run in GTA 5, you must first have access to a hangar in the game. Hangars are available for purchase, and you need to buy one of the five available hangars to get started. Without a hangar, you won’t be able to buy and store planes and helicopters, and you won’t be able to initiate any Smuggler’s Run missions.

What is the best cargo for GTA Online Smuggler’s Run?

The best cargo to smuggle in GTA Online’s Smuggler’s Run is narcotics, followed by chemicals and medical supplies. Although smuggling narcotics may attract more attention from law enforcement and rival players, it offers a higher profit margin compared to other cargo types.

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Aron Gerencser
Aron Gerencser // Articles: 846
An avid fan of all things Rockstar Games, Aron's journey with the GTA franchise began with GTA 2 back when it was new (all the way back in 1999), and he was a gamer even before then - having played every title in the series, the retrowave aesthetics of Vice City gripped him most. // Full Bio