WNBA Will Start Flying Players Via Charter Planes as Caitlin Clark, Brittney Griner Are Crowded at Airports

The move comes amid increased interest in the league and criticism regarding the WNBA's investment in its players

<p>AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth</p>

AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

The WNBA is ready for takeoff!

On the eve of the debut of the regular season on May 14, teams are set to fly in charter planes for away games, a departure from years of dealing with travel delays, cramped quarters and safety concerns.

“We intend to fund a full-time charter for this season,” WNBA president Cathy Engelbert told reporters on Tuesday, May 7, according to the Associated Press.

Engelbert added that the change in air travel would happen “as soon as we can get planes in places.”

Related: Reporter Suspended After Uncomfortable Exchange with Caitlin Clark and Will Not Attend Fever Games

The transition from the WNBA’s 12 teams flying commercial to using charters will cost the league about $25 million a season for the next two years, ESPN reported.

The news has players and those behind the scenes cheering the change.

Related: Police Report Sheds Light on ‘Aggressive’ Man Who Accosted Brittney Griner at Airport

"Our league is growing, the demand for women's basketball is growing," Nneka Ogwumike, a Seattle Storm star and the president of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association, said. "That means more eyes on us, which is what we want, but that means more protection from the organization that we play for, the whole W that we play for.”

The switch to charter planes also impacts players' security concerns — something that came into play last season.

Last June, Phoenix Mercury star Brittney Griner and her teammates were harassed by YouTuber Alex Stein at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport shortly after Griner had been released from Russian custody.

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Video of the incident showed Stein pushing the team’s security guard while trying to get closer to Griner.

The incident cast criticism over the WNBA’s policy against providing teams with chartered flights.

And last week, as Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever traveled to their first away game in Dallas, airport goers were seen hovering around the WNBA rookie, filming and taking photos.

With a surge in interest in the league thanks to Clark and other rookies like Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso, the WNBA is responding to criticism that it has previously shown a lack of investment in its players, per the AP.

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