WNBA to use charter flights full time in upcoming season, addressing player safety concerns

The WNBA will use league-wide charter flights for the first time this season, the league announced Thursday.

The charters will begin at the start of the regular season.

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of a full charter program as soon as practical for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, a testament to the continued growth of the WNBA,” Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement.

“We have been hard at work to transform the business and build a sustainable economic model to support charter flights for the long term.

“While we still have a lot of work to do to continue to execute our strategic plan, we feel confident that the time is now to institute a full charter program to demonstrate our commitment to leading with a player-first agenda,” she said.

Among other issues, players have said using charter flights would address years of safety concerns. It means no more long security lines, bodyguards in public spaces, cramped legroom or layovers for the professional athletes who have been lobbying for better travel long before Caitlin Clark helped bring increased interest to the league.

Delta will be the primary provider of the charters.

Seattle Storm forward Nneka Ogwumike said the move is a big step forward.

“On behalf of the players, I express my appreciation and support for a bold move by the Commissioner and team governors that in turn shows that they understand and value the health and safety of the players. It is time to be transformational. It’s time to bet on women," she said.

The WNBA’s 28th season tips off on Tuesday.