ACTION. Connecticut Sun’s DeWanna Bonner (24) competes against New York Liberty defenders for a rebound during a WNBA basketball game Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Uncasville, Conn. / AP
ACTION. Connecticut Sun’s DeWanna Bonner (24) competes against New York Liberty defenders for a rebound during a WNBA basketball game Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Uncasville, Conn. / AP

WNBA says playoff teams would have to fly commercially under certain scenarios

THE WNBA’s pledge to provide private planes for all postseason air travel has a few caveats, according to a memo sent to teams this week.

The memo, obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday night, outlined certain scenarios under which teams would have to fly commercially.

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced in April and repeated many times during the season that the league would provide charter flights for all postseason games where air travel was necessary. Last season, the league paid for charters for the WNBA Finals.

The league memo specified that teams can’t take charter flights for multiple trips in between playoff rounds. That means a lower-seeded team that sweeps its best-of-three first-round series would have a choice: either charter home or to the site of the next round. If the team chose to charter home, it would have to fly commercially to the next site.

Such a scenario isn’t extremely likely, but it’s possible. The league would reimburse the team for the cost of the commercial flight.

The memo was first reported by the basketball website The Next.

WNBA players have been outspoken this season about their desire for better travel conditions, and the league expanded its use of charter flights, paying for teams to fly to the second of back-to-back games that require air travel. There were five such flights this year. The WNBA also paid for the road team’s charter to the Commissioner’s Cup final, as it did last year.

The AP previously reported that the cost for all the private flights for the year would be around $4.5 million.

Since taking over as commissioner in 2019, Engelbert has added a few more charter opportunities for teams. She previously allowed playoff teams that were traveling through more than one time zone to fly privately if they only had a day between games. / AP

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