WNBA reportedly allowing teams to use charter flights, sort of

Teams will be allowed to fly on public charter service JSX for back-to-backs and the playoffs

The WNBA is finally granting its teams the ability to travel via charter flights rather than commercial airlines. In a way.

After years of its players requesting they be allowed to travel via private plane like most other major sports leagues do, the WNBA is allowing teams to fly via a public charter service called JSX while observing certain protocols, according to ESPN.

WNBA players have long lamented having to fly commercial, for reasons ranging from the discomfort taller people usually experience when fitting into seats to comically miserable travel experiences brought on by flight delays. The issue was renewed earlier this week due to safety concerns after Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner was harassed by a YouTuber over her experience in Russian prison while walking through a concourse at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Phoenix Mercury's Brittney Griner watches from the bench during the first half of a WNBA basketball game against the Indiana Fever, Sunday, June 11, 2023, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner's travel situation has caused ripples throughout the WNBA. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Some team owners have advocated for traveling via charterwith the New York Liberty fined $500K last year for actually doing it — while the league office has chafed at the cost for some of the lesser-resourced teams.

The league has given a little recently, allowing charter flights for back-to-back games and the playoffs, but JSX appears to be a new attempt at a compromise that still leaves plenty to be desired.

What on earth is JSX, the WNBA's charter company?

According to its site, JSX terms itself as a "hop-on" charter company allowing regular people to book seats on smaller charter planes with none of the hassle of commercial airlines. Passengers can show up as little as 20 minutes before a flight without having to go through security and wait for their flights at private terminals.

Many of the flights listed on the site seem reasonably priced, with some tickets lower than $200 for seats on 30-person planes with plenty of room.

The drawback is the service comes nowhere to close to offering all the flights the WNBA would need, as most of its flights are shorter routes between only a few cities that have WNBA teams. For example, Griner's Mercury appear to only have access to flights from Phoenix to Burbank, California; Denver and Las Vegas, so there are only two road venues, the Los Angeles Sparks and Las Vegas Aces, in which JSX would actually be useful.

JSX reportedly has the ability to create flights outside of its public schedule for a higher fee, which is what the WNBA is prohibiting. However, the Aces reportedly worked with JSX to create public available flights based on their road schedule, known as "pop-up flights," which they apparently are no longer taking, according to The Washington Post's Candace Buckner.

So for a small portion of the WNBA's travel schedule, its players are flying charter. Sort of.

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