Thursday December 7, 2023

Travel Concerns Become Focal Point for WNBA Players, Teams

  • Private air travel is a focus of WNBA free agent conversations, according to ESPN.
  • Pheonix Mercury player Brittney Griner will likely need to fly private for safety concerns.
Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
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The discussion of charter travel for WNBA teams is heating up.

Private air travel is a focus of free-agent conversations in the league, according to ESPN, as Phoenix Mercury player Brittney Griner — who was detained in Russia last year — will likely need to fly private for safety concerns.

If she does, the WNBA would need to decide how to go forward with charter travel — the league currently doesn’t allow charter flights.

  • Cost estimates for all teams traveling charter are close to $30 million — an amount the WNBA can’t afford. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert previously said that she wouldn’t “jeopardize the health of the league” with charter flights.
  • Even if an individual team has enough money to fly charter, it isn’t allowed to unless all 12 teams can afford it — the New York Liberty were fined $500,000 for secretly chartering flights during the 2022 season. 

Griner reportedly hasn’t asked for special travel accommodations yet.

Private Proposals

Players including Breanna Stewart, who has reportedly made charter travel a factor in her free agency, are proposing ideas.

“I would love to be part of a deal that helps subsidize charter travel for the entire WNBA,” Stewart tweeted. “I would contribute my NIL, posts + production [hours] to ensure we all travel in a way that prioritizes player health + safety, which ultimately results in a better product. Who’s with me?”

The tweet had replies from other big names including Sue Bird, Paige Bueckers, and Ja Morant.

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