The WNBA's $20 Million Charter Flight Debate

Whether team owners want charters or not, players do. And, unlike five or ten years ago, they seem to enjoy broad public support, as fem...


Whether team owners want charters or not, players do. And, unlike five or ten years ago, they seem to enjoy broad public support, as female athletes speak for themselves and women’s sports attract more media attention. For some, the push for charters is to provide suitable housing for professional athletes — “beautiful things,” as Brown put it. But Jackson said it was primarily about player health and safety.

“Their bodies are their craft,” Jackson said. They need time to rest, leg room because they’re big, and access to nutritious meals to perform at a high level, she said. All of this is undermined by spending hours in airports traveling for business purposes, sitting in cramped seats and without proper snacks, she said.

It was worse just a few years ago, before collective agreement 2020 went into effect with an allocation of upgraded seats. Liz Cambage, four-time All-Star listed at 6-foot-8, tweeted last month that she had paid “out of pocket” to upgrade her seats. And yet, even today, players can find themselves stuck in coaching.

Jackson said teams and the league blamed overworked staff members who struggled to arrange travel and airlines that wouldn’t allow large groups to book upgraded seats or leave the row. Bringing the complaints to the league helped — “Some teams have banded together,” Jackson said — but she said the next step would be to file a grievance. The union didn’t last season, but improving travel will be a “point of attention” this coming season, she said. The league said it was “made aware” of the complaints last season and will be auditing teams this season “to ensure full compliance”.

When players can switch to charter flights — without teams incurring fines — is unclear due to conflicting opinions from players and the league on how and when to pay for them. Engelbert said the price tag of more than $20 million for full-season charters makes it unlikely that a sponsor will take the note, though the league is open to that and Liberty and other teams are exploring options.

“I don’t want to do things that jeopardize the financial health of the league,” she said, adding, “We’re trying to build revenue and financial models that support better things for players long term. term, but it’s not something we can afford today.



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Newsrust - US Top News: The WNBA's $20 Million Charter Flight Debate
The WNBA's $20 Million Charter Flight Debate
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