Sports

Amid push for equal treatment, WNBA to charter some team flights

The WNBA said it will, for the first time, allow chartered flights for select regular season games.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner drives past Chicago Sky forward Candace Parker.
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The WNBA announced that it will begin chartering flights for players during all playoff games and some regular season games.

The announcement comes amid pressure to improve the working conditions for athletes. The league said teams will use charter flights when they’re playing back-to-back regular season games.

Based on the announcement, teams will still utilize commercial flights to travel when not involved in a back-to-back. Previously, the WNBA only chartered flights for the finals and Commissioner Cup championship games. 

“We continue the hard work of transforming the business of the league, and the ability to expand this program is a direct result of that,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.  “Since joining the league a few years ago, a goal of mine has been to enhance the overall player experience and, in that regard, make incremental improvements where we are able to do so and when we believe the economic model would support it for the long-term.”

The WNBA is pushing to change its travel arrangements
The WNBA is pushing to change its travel arrangements

The WNBA is pushing to change its travel arrangements

WNBA players have to fly commercial, while other sports leagues and its male counterpart are able to charter flights.

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In 2022, the WNBA champions Las Vegas Aces played 18 regular season road games. Of those, just two were played on back-to-back days. The Eastern Conference champs Connecticut Sun also played just two of its 18 road games on back-to-back days. 

The use of commercial flights stands in stark contrast to the top men’s sports leagues, as the NBA, MLB, NHL and NFL have long utilized team-owner jets. Also, many top men’s and women’s college basketball programs frequently use charter flights. 

The treatment of players in the WNBA got more attention after the detention of star Brittney Griner in Russia. Like many in the WNBA, she spent her offseason playing overseas to make more money. She was arrested and held for nine months for possessing a prescribed hash oil.