Photo: John Mac, via Wikimedia Commons

Will the WNBA Be Flying Privately? Not Really.

Caitlin Clark can expect more comfortable flights in the next two years, but no aircraft was needed for the home game against the Los Angeles Sparks

Given headlines like “WNBA Players Will Finally Fly Private Thanks to Delta” (Travel & Leisure) and “How Caitlin Clark Got the WBNA Private Planes,” (AeroXplorer), women’s basketball fans could be forgiven for thinking that the league’s increasingly famous players had been supplied with a fleet of bizjets.

After all, on the men’s side, it has been reported that the Los Angeles Lakers own a custom-designed Boeing 757-200, that the Dallas Mavericks own a Boeing 767-200ER (or at least had the use of former team owner Mark Cuban's private jet), and that the Boston Celtics fly around in a Boeing 737-800. 

And LeBron James commands the skies in a Gulfstream G280.

But despite the frenzy around the superlative skills of Caitlin Clark, who was recruited for the Indiana Fever and is widely considered to be one of the greatest collegiate players of all time, WNBA players will not be flying in the kind of rarefied air that the men’s teams sometimes enjoy. (The NBA uses charter flights as well, and sometimes, the bizjets that a team reportedly "owns" are actually the property of the team's owner.) 

There is a world of difference between true private aviation and chartering flights on a commercial airline such as Delta.

Nevertheless, the move represents a big step up: For the next two seasons at least, in a phased-in schedule yet to be determined, the women’s teams will be flying to away games with a lot more discretion, comfort, and privacy, rather than flying commercial as they mainly had in the past. The program will cost a reported $25 million.

"We are thrilled to announce the launch of a full charter program as soon as practical for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, a testament to the continued growth of the WNBA," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. "We have been hard at work to transform the business and build a sustainable economic model to support charter flights for the long term."

On May 28, Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever faced off against the Los Angeles Sparks. The game, which the Sparks won, was played on the Fever’s home turf: No flying required.