NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 28: A'ja Wilson #22 of the Las Vegas Aces make a shot against Breanna Stewart #30 of the New York Liberty at Barclays Center on August 28, 2023 in New York City.
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The WNBA Lied to Teams About Chartering Flights

The WNBA initially promised that they would charter flights for playoff teams this season. It turns out that was a lie.

Back in April, WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced that the league would assign charter flights for all 2023 WNBA postseason games.

This is no longer true.

As first reported by The Next, the WNBA distributed an internal memo to teams earlier this week which states that as many as six WNBA teams may have to take commercial flights during the playoffs.

The league tried to clarify their backtrack within the memo: "Between rounds, [playoff] teams will have the option to charter from the home market or directly to Game 1 of the following round (only one route permitted, not both). Therefore, teams will need to plan their own commercial flight(s) if and when necessary, depending on their choice."

Since the memo's wording makes the matter more confusing, what it's saying is this: if a team ends one series on the road, then starts the next series on the road, they'll be forced to choose between one of these three options:

Option 1: Take a commercial flight home, then take a charter flight to the next round.

Option 2: Take a charter flight home, then take a commercial flight to the next round.

Option 3: Take a charter flight directly to the next round — which might mean a long break (perhaps an entire week) between rounds, spent in the city of the team's next opponent.

For example: if the season ended today, the Atlanta Dream would hold the #6 seed, and would play the #3 seeded Connecticut Sun. If the Dream were to travel to Connecticut and sweep the Sun in the best-of-three first round, the Dream would have to choose between taking a charter flight directly to New York for their next series against the Liberty (assuming the Liberty also won) — which might mean a week-long layoff in NYC — or take a charter flight back home to Atlanta; in which case they'd have to fly commercial to New York once the second round started.

This will be the case for every team not seeded #1 or #2 throughout the playoffs, since those two teams will start each series at home (aside from the WNBA Finals, which be fully chartered regardless).

Despite the WNBA paying for any charter flight that teams have had this season — which has cost around $4.5 million — teams are still extremely upset that the WNBA league office went back on their word. "You came out and said you were going to have charter travel for the playoffs," one WNBA team official told The Next. "Now you say, charters, with asterisks, unless this happens."

Although the WNBA is on fire right now, it's frustrating to know that the world's best basketball players might still be flying commercial to their playoffs games this year. Hopefully the WNBA Commissioner's Office can figure out how to make charter flights the only option come 2024.

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