The WNBA will allow teams to take public charter service in the wake of verbal slander Brittney Griner faced while flying commercial. Griner was heckled at Dallas airport by right-wing activist Alex Stein.
The Mercury star was detained by the Russian authorities in February 2022 and released in December 2022 after the US government agreed to a prisoner swap. They sent back arms dealer Viktor Bout as part of that agreement.
Players' safety was brought into question after the infamous incident involving Stein and Griner. Flying by public charter flights was something several franchises and players pushed for previously, but the WNBA didn't allow that citing cost control purposes.
They also fined $500,000 the New York Liberty in 2021 for illicitly flying charters to a few away games. However, the league has changed its stance on this and allowed teams flying on public charter service by JSX with protocols in place. Here's what ESPN reported on this:
"As the WNBA faces increased pressure to move away from commercial airline travel, the league has allowed teams this season to fly on a public chartering service called JSX with certain protocols in place, league sources told ESPN this week."
The league had already allowed teams to use public charters for back-to-back games and the postseason. Some franchises will now be able to use the service in the regular season too. Not all teams have the service available in their city, so they won't be able to avail these benefits.
How does a public charter service benefit WNBA players?
As per ESPN, JSX public charter service is only a taste of what a private charter service is, according to a league source. With commercial and JSX flights being public, the common query would be what difference does it make for WNBA players and their safety?
JSX public charters have some benefits that commercial flights don't. That included the option for WNBA teams to buy out an entire 30-seat capacity jet and the option of a private terminal as opposed to a commercial flight.
Here's what JSX's website states it's a "hop-on jet service that's faster on the ground and more comfortable in the air." The tickets for a commercial flight and a public charter flight are the same.
However, a league source told ESPN that teams won't be able to schedule the flights at their convenience. JSX has pre-set routes and times. JSX offers the option to schedule flights, but due to the added expenses of that service, the league prohibits teams from doing that.