The start of the Mystics' first playoff series won't be marred by the semi-regular travel woes that plague the league's players during the regular season.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced on Sunday that the league will cover the cost of charter flights for Connecticut and Washington's opponents in both Game Ones in the semifinals round of the WNBA playoffs.
“With both second-round WNBA playoff games taking place in the Pacific Time Zone on Sunday and WNBA semifinals set to tip-off on Tuesday in Connecticut and Washington, D.C., the league has arranged and will cover costs for charter flights for the winners of Sunday’s games," she said in a statement released by the league. "We believe it is in the best interest of the players to provide them with an opportunity to arrive expeditiously in the city of the first game of the WNBA semifinals and have a full day on-site to practice, rest and prepare.”
WNBA players, who fly commercial flights, have often voiced concern about their travel arrangements.
Earlier this season, Elena Delle Donne wrote on Instagram that she was "sick of" taking commercial flights cross-country, citing a fellow passenger's derogatory remarks made while the Mystics were on a flight to Las Vegas. In 2018, the Mystics game against the Aces was canceled after the Las Vegas-based team's travel woes resulted in them traveling for reportedly 24 hours and arriving only a few hours before game time.
The issue also was one of the central points in WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike's essay on The Player's Tribune in 2018 after players opted out of their CBA. Players have to renegotiate a deal before the 2020 season.
"This is not purely about salaries. This is about small changes the league can make that will impact the players," she said in the essay. "This is about a six-foot-nine superstar taking a red-eye cross-country and having to sit in an economy seat instead of an exit row. Often with delays. Imagine the last time you took a red-eye business trip and you sat in the middle seat with your knees all cramped up, and how shook you were for that entire rest of the day."
The top-seeded Mystics, who clinched a double-bye to the semifinals, start their postseason on Tuesday at home.
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