Photo Credit: TN
WNBA To Use Charter Flights For The Finals
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) is entering the second half of the 2022 season with news of changes to the current and upcoming seasons. This includes charter flights for all 2022 WNBA Finals games is one of them.
On July 10th, WNBA’s commissioner Cathy Engelbert held a press conference and unveiled what to expect for the league’s future, during the WNBA All-Star Game at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
“We continue to work really hard on the transformation of the business to improve the player experience, so we’re going to implement a couple things … to help with the player experience for the rest of the season,” said Engelbert before announcing that the league would provide charter flights for WNBA Finals this season.
Travel has remained a concerning issue for WNBA athletes and coaches. Delays, cancellations, seats that are not suitable for tall people and problems with unruly passengers can turn travel on a commercial flight into a nightmare.
With the announcement, WNBA teams that usually fly on commercial airlines will now experience more comfortable flights for the finals. Also, this could be good news for players’ health. Engelbert told the journalists who attended the press conference.
Traveling on charter flights is not new for WNBA. Engelbert, who has been an advocate in certain playoffs situations, secured charter flights in 2019 and 2021 for playoff teams that had to cross multiple time zones with a day or less turnaround time before their next game.
However, high costs are one of the reasons players aren’t permitted to fly by charter plane more often. Engelbert has said it would cost more than $20 million to fly all of its 12 teams by charter instead of on commercial airlines for a full season.
“We’re hoping in a few years, as we get more viewers to the game, we get more sponsors, we get better media deals, that that would be something we could afford,” Engelbert told The New York Times. But she also said that she wouldn’t “jeopardize the financial health of the league” to fly players by charter.
Despite facing financial hurdles, the league has recently raised $75 million from investors such as Nike and Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state.
WNBA does not allow teams to charter flights themselves. The W.N.B.A. fined the Liberty $500,000 for secretly traveling to several games by charter last season.