New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart was all smiles Tuesday night when she learned of the WNBA’s plans to charter flights for the next two seasons, a move amid heightened concerns over player safety after the arrival of former Iowa star Caitlin Clark. 

Stewart, a two-time WNBA champion and the 2016 No. 1 overall pick, high-fived teammate Jonquel Jones when learning of the announcement Tuesday. 

WNBA players fly commercial

Players and staff of the New York Liberty wait to board buses at Harry Reid International Airport June 28, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

“Oh, we’re gonna charter to Connecticut,” she joked to reporters when asked of her reaction to the news. 

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“We think it’s amazing if it’s true,” Jones added. “There’s a lot of games this season, and we want to be able to play our best. And a charter is definitely going to help with that.” 

Last year, the WNBA spent $4 million on charter flights for the playoffs and any back-to-back games during the regular season. Ahead of the draft last month, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert confirmed the league would do the same this season. 

Breanna Stewart waves

Breanna Stewart of the New York Liberty smiles after a game against the Washington Mystics during the 2023 WNBA Playoffs Sept. 15, 2023, in Brooklyn, N.Y.  (Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images)

FEVER’S CAITLIN CLARK SAYS FLYING COMMERCIAL WILL BE ‘AN ADJUSTMENT’ AS DEBATE ON WNBA FLIGHTS IS REIGNITED

But ongoing concerns about player safety on commercial flights reignited with the arrival of Clark, who previously flew charter flights at Iowa. 

“It’ll definitely be an adjustment, but it is what it is,” Clark told reporters after flying commercial to the Indiana Fever’s preseason game against the Wings in Dallas last week.  

“It’s not like we’re the odd man out here. Everybody has to navigate it, and I think it’s going to cause some problems, maybe, because the popularity of our league is continuing to grow and having to navigate travel with that. But, at the same time, that’s a positive thing, too. You want people to be excited about our game.”  

Sabrina Ionescu checks in with airport security

New York Liberty basketball player Sabrina Ionescu, center, waits to go through the security line with team manager of basketball operations Micaela Reese behind her at Bradley Airport in Hartford, Conn., June 25, 2023.  (AP Photo/Doug Feinberg, File)

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But this week, the league announced a $50 million plan to provide full-time charter flight service for its teams the next two seasons. 

Charter flights will allow WNBA players to go through private air terminals and avoid layovers, which is even more crucial with this season’s schedule around the Olympics.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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