While Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever were seen flying on a chartered plane to their season opener against the Connecticut Sun, not every team in the WNBA did so prior to the start of the 2024 campaign. 

Chicago Sky 2024 draft pick Angel Reese hopes it is the last time she flies commercially. 

Reese posted a selfie on her Instagram account on a flight to Dallas, where the Sky are facing the Wings on Tuesday night. She was very direct with her caption. 

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“Just praying that this is one of the last commercial flights the Chicago Sky has to fly,” she wrote. “Like Breezy [Sky teammate Brianna Turner] said, ‘Practicing gratitude & patience as the league introduces charter flights for all teams.’”

It has long been a hot debate topic for the WNBA, as it was previously not allowed for teams to charter their teams to away games. 

WNBA SET TO HAVE FULL-TIME CHARTER FLIGHTS FOR TEAMS BEGINNING THIS SEASON

New York Liberty owner Joe Tsai, who also owns the Brooklyn Nets, was fined by the league in 2022 for providing his team with charter flights. The reasoning for the fine was it went against the league’s collective bargaining agreement, which said it could provide a potential unfair competitive advantage for teams that could not afford charters. 

As such, WNBA teams have primarily flown commercially, and sometimes that means entire days traveling across the country. However, heading into the last season, the league expanded its charter flight policy, allowing private flights for all postseason games, back-to-back games and select regular-season games.

Now, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a meeting with sports editors last week that the league will launch its plan to have full-time chartered flights for its teams “as soon as we can get planes in places.”

Engelbert added that the projected cost for the chartered plane program will be around $25 million per year for the next two seasons. 

Player safety has always been the concern for commercial flights, which is what the WNBA has used since its inception in 1997. It made national headlines, though, when Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner was released from a Russian prison in a controversial exchange with United States officials. 

Six months after the exchange, Griner was targeted by “inappropriate and unfortunate” actions of a “social media figure and provocateur” at a Dallas airport. Alex Stein walked beside Griner and asked why she “hates” and “still want[s] to boycott” America, while she was walking alongside her teammates. 

Griner later called it “rock bottom” for the WNBA.

Many WNBA players have voiced their opinions about commercial flights, including Clark, who said it would have been “an adjustment.”

Like Reese said, she will try to practice gratitude and patience while waiting for the WNBA to institute its new program. She clearly hopes it comes sooner rather than later. 

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