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WNBA travel arrangements leave Sky, Sun frustrated

The Sky were divided among three flights Friday morning on their trip back to Chicago. The Sun similarly were set for three flights but from two airports. 

The WNBA’s inability to provide comfortable travel arrangements for its players even during the WNBA semifinals series was met with deep frustration by Sky coach/general manager James Wade and Sun coach/general manager Curt Miller.
The WNBA’s inability to provide comfortable travel arrangements for its players even during the WNBA semifinals series was met with deep frustration by Sky coach/general manager James Wade and Sun coach/general manager Curt Miller.
Sean D. Elliot, AP Photos

Less than six hours after their 79-68 Game 2 semifinal loss to the Connecticut Sun, the Sky needed to be up for a 3:30 a.m. departure to the airport.

The team was divided between three flights out of three different airports Friday morning for their trip back to Chicago. The Sun similarly were set to have their team flying on three separate flights but they will be doing it from two airports.

The WNBA’s inability to provide uncomplicated travel arrangements for its players even during the WNBA semifinals was met with deep frustration by Sky coach/general manager James Wade and Sun coach/general manager Curt Miller.

“That’s what these amazing women, the best in the world at what they do, go through,” Miller said following Thursday’s game.

The WNBA does not charter flights. Instead, teams are faced with delays, odd flight times and cramped seating arrangements flying commercial. After their 89-76 win against the Minnesota Lynx in the second round, the Sky had to catch an 8 a.m. commercial flight the next morning to Connecticut.

This meant they spent their day off traveling instead of recovering — and that isn’t even the worst of the Sky’s travel issues this year.

In June, the Sky faced all-day delays that had them arriving at their New York hotel at 2 a.m. for a 7 p.m. tipoff later that night.

The WNBA’s eight-year collective bargaining agreement, agreed upon by the league and the WNBPA last year, made slight improvements to travel arrangements. It ensures players will have individual hotel accommodations and be seated in economy plus seats on flights.

That’s a contributing factor for Friday’s less-than-satisfactory travel arrangements for the Sky and Sun. Miller said Thursday that his team would be flying on separate flights to Chicago to ensure players are not seated in middle seats.

So, once again, instead of spending valuable time recovering in preparation for a noon tipoff Sunday at Wintrust Arena, players will be traveling.

“We wish we could charter (a flight),” Sun guard Jasmine Thomas said. “That’s something that’s been in conversation for years is being able to do that especially during the playoffs. But because we can’t, we just got to take it. Both teams are going to go through similar things so it’s not something you can really complain about.”