WNBA says all teams will be flying charters to games by May 21 after rough program rollout

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 15: Angel Reese #5 of the Chicago Sky reacts after a play against the Dallas Wings at the College Park Center on May 15, 2024 in Arlington, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

The WNBA's rollout of their new charter flight program didn't go as smoothly as it could have, but the situation will be made right in less than a week.

After a number of teams have been required to take commercial flights for their first few games, a WNBA spokesperson told The Athletic on Thursday that all teams will be flying charters for their away games as of May 21. The only exceptions will be for Chicago Sky-Indiana Fever and Connecticut Sun-New York Liberty games, which will be bus rides due to proximity.

The W announced last week that a charter flight program would be phased in at the start of the season, meaning these professional sports teams would no longer be relying on commercial flights to get to their games. That's a huge shift for a league that, until earlier this month, would not allow any team owner to pay for charter flights because the league considered it an unfair advantage.

Unfortunately, the WNBA promised more than it could deliver. Not all teams began the season flying charters. Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever flew private for their first games, while Angel Reese and the Chicago Sky are flying commercial. The inequality was glaring, especially given the WNBA's previous stance on charter flights — if all teams didn't get them, it was an unfair advantage.

The WNBA received blowback they rightfully deserved for rushing the rollout instead of waiting until every team could use charter flights. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert was forced to hold a town hall with players so she could provide them with clarity about the program going forward. Chicago Sky center Elizabeth Williams, who spoke with Annie Costabile of the Chicago Sun-Times, said the league prioritized flights across the country or across multiple time zones above all others.

Shortly after the WNBA released a statement to The Athletic, Washington Post basketball writer Kareem Copeland reported the Washington Mystics' commercial flight to Connecticut to play the Suns was running nearly an hour late.

For the WNBA players still stuck flying commercial, May 21 can't come fast enough.