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WNBA ironing out charter flight issues, but not in time for Storm's first trip

Percy Allen, The Seattle Times on

Published in Basketball

SEATTLE — Last week, WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert surprised many, including several players and a few general managers, when she abruptly announced the league would provide charter flights to teams for the 2024 and 2025 seasons.

Initially, the news drew widespread praise, then the celebrations turned to criticism following a seemingly clunky rollout in which just two road teams flew charter this week.

The Minnesota Lynx flew charter to Seattle for Tuesday’s regular-season opener against the Storm, but returned home the next day on a commercial flight. The Indiana Fever took a private plane to and from their opener at Connecticut.

New York Liberty and former Storm star Breanna Stewart expressed displeasure with the WNBA’s charter program and said the Liberty rode a charter bus to their game at Washington.

“2 out of 5 WNBA teams traveling today are on WNBA charters — and that’s a win. It could be a bigger one if the W allowed teams who were not offered League charters to secure their own until a full 12 team solution is ready,” Stewart wrote on Sunday on her social-media accounts.

On Thursday, a WNBA spokesperson confirmed every team will fly charter to and from road games starting Tuesday.

 

“As the league previously announced, we would be phasing in the program at the start of the season and can share that beginning (Tuesday) all teams will be flying charter to games,” the league said in a statement.

That’s great news for the WNBA, but somewhat unfortunate timing for the Storm, which won’t have the use of charter flights during the start of their three-game road trip that begins 6:30 p.m. Friday against the Lynx.

“I know they’re still figuring some stuff out,” Storm guard Sami Whitcomb said. “Hopefully we can get some (charter flights) before we’re too deep into the season. But obviously it’s amazing no matter what. And I’m just excited that we’re at a point where that that’s now. We’re present where it’s no longer a future thing and it’s happening.”

The Storm flew commercial to Minneapolis and will fly commercial for Sunday’s game in Washington D.C. against the Mystics.

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