If you ever watched the Pokémon anime growing up, you’d know that the villainous Team Rocket has a predilection for traveling via hot air balloons, frequently shaped like Meowth’s head. Kind of a weird choice of travel for an international crime syndicate, but I’d be lying if I said the sight of it in the sky wasn’t very distinctive. Here’s how often you can expect to see Team Rocket balloons floating in the sky in Pokémon GO.

While you’re wandering around in Pokémon GO, you may occasionally see a Team Rocket balloon floating around nearby, not unlike the typical wandering Pokémon. Don’t worry, they won’t pick a fight with you unless you instigate one. If you do choose to fight them, you’ll go up against a Rocket Grunt, one of the Rocket Admins, Sierra, Cliff or Arlo, or, if the balloon is a Meowth balloon, you can challenge the infamous Jessie and James. 

Pokémon GO Team Rocket Balloon Spawn Rate

The primary difference between Rocket Balloons and wandering Pokémon is that Rocket Balloons don’t actually appear randomly. Rocket Balloons appear in specific six-hour intervals over the course of a day, with one balloon spawning per interval. The intervals are (in your local time zone):

  • 12:00 AM to 06:00 AM
  • 06:00 AM to 12:00 PM
  • 12:00 PM to 06:00 PM
  • 06:00 PM to 12:00 AM

Whenever a balloon appears during one of these intervals, you’ll have 20 minutes to interact with it and defeat its occupant. If you don’t interact with the balloon within those 20 minutes, it’ll fly away, and you’ll have to wait for the next interval. Jessie and James’ Meowth Balloon has a 50% chance of appearing in the place of a typical Rocket Balloon, and are limited to those same intervals. 

Balloons will appear as soon as you open the game. Theoretically, if you were to play Pokémon GO from midnight to midnight on a given day, you’d be able to battle a maximum of four Rocket Balloons.