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WNBA players will soon be able to take charter planes for all away games

Until now, players usually flew commercial — often creating delays and headaches.
A detail of the WNBA logo is seen on a basketball falling through a hoop
The WNBA is set to announce the use of charter planes for travel.Steph Chambers / Getty Images file

The WNBA is set to announce the use of charter planes for travel to and from all away games, league Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Tuesday.

It will be a change from the current arrangement, under which the league's 12 teams primarily flew commercial.

“We intend to fund a full-time charter for this season,” Engelbert said Tuesday in a meeting with sports editors.

The existing rule, stipulated by the current collective bargaining agreement, inevitably led to delays and headaches, as documented in an Associated Press report last year.

In particular, especially tall players have often been cramped into uncomfortable seats — while international players, who cannot use expedited airport security processing like TSA PreCheck, sometimes caused extended waits for their teammates.

While players are usually able to take comfort or economy-plus seats, any upgrades had to come directly from players’ pockets.

An attempt by the New York Liberty to circumvent the commercial-flying rule in 2022 was met with a record $500,000 fine, though the league has since allowed teams with back-to-back game nights to use charters.

Englebert said the league will launch the program “as soon as we can get planes in places.”

Last year, the WNBA estimated it would cost $25 million to use charters for the entire season.

The collective bargaining agreement is set to expire after this season — and with interest in women's basketball at all-time highs amid Caitlin Clark mania, the league looks to be getting ahead of ongoing complaints about a lack of investment in its players while anticipating increased revenue that should help cover the price of flying private.

The first WNBA regular season game is scheduled to tip off May 14.