WNBA owners reportedly voted down a temporary plan to upgrade team flights out of fear players would 'get used to' the treatment
WNBAowners declined the opportunity to provide teams chartered flights for games, per Sports Illustrated.
- Some owners voted against due to fears "that players would get used to" the higher-quality treatment.
WNBA teams have long traveled from game to game on commercial flights, a reality that's created countless nightmarish trips and endless hours crammed into coach for the world's best basketball players each season.
Ever since billionaire businessman Joe Tsai purchased the New York Liberty in January 2019, he has been working to change that. For a while, the league argued that it'd give the Liberty an unfair advantage if Tsai bankrolled private flights for only his team; not every WNBA franchise owner can afford to charter planes for a 36-game regular season.
But when the Alibaba executive — who also owns the NBA's Brooklyn Nets — came up with a plan to give all 12 teams chartered flights for the next three years, the WNBA Board of Governors still wasn't on board.
According to a bombshell Sports Illustrated report written by WNBA insider Howard Megdal, most of the board voted down the September 2021 proposal to upgrade teams'
"Some owners worried that players would get used to it, so there'd be no going back," Megdal wrote. "And others wondered whether players might just prefer a salary hike instead."
A spokesperson for the WNBA has since denied that there was ever "a New York Liberty proposal for the WNBA Board of Governors to consider offering three-years-worth of charter flights for WNBA teams."
"It was agreed that the Liberty would explore opportunities regarding charter flights and present it to the Board," the representative told Insider. "To date, that has not happened."
"It's frustrating because I played overseas, and I know the treatment and the standard of how athletes, period, should be treated," Cambage said. "It's hard to come here and fly economy, fly exit rows. I'm 6-foot-8, borderline 6-foot-9."
"It's tough, especially when this league is full of owners and GMs that want to do more," she added.
Mark Davis, the owner of the Las Vegas Aces and the NFL's Raiders, also argued that WNBA players "don't need to be flying on commercial flights" during a press conference in early February.
"These women are very tall," Davis said. "It's very cramped and everything else. We should have charter flights."
But owners like Davis and Tsai may have to wait several years before a change on the charter flight front. Until 2027 — when the WNBA's collective bargaining agreement (
Whether the players will push back — or flee to better-resourced leagues overseas — remains to be seen.
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