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WNBA allows public charter flights but nixes Aces’ loophole

The Las Vegas Aces had worked with the public charter service to create flights around their game schedule, but they no longer are doing so. (Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)

The WNBA is allowing teams to fly on a public charter service this season, albeit with terms and conditions applied.

Teams can use JetSuiteX, which on its website bills itself as a “hop-on jet service that’s faster on the ground and more comfortable in the air.” JSX operates out of private terminals, which helps teams bypass airports and TSA security.

JSX planes can hold up to 30 people, which means teams have the option to buy out the flight, a league executive told ESPN.

The news of the expanded travel policy, first reported by the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner, comes after Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury were harassed in a Dallas airport last weekend while waiting on a commercial flight.

But JSX isn’t available in the majority of WNBA cities. The airline has three hubs in Los Angeles, as well as hubs in Phoenix, Dallas, Las Vegas and Westchester County in New York. So the usage of such flights has varied by team.

Also, unlike traditional charters, JSX flights have pre-set routes and times, which the WNBA has told teams the cannot change, ESPN reported. And while the airline offers the ability to book flights outside its pre-set schedule, such a move is prohibited by the league.

The Las Vegas Aces attempted to work around that condition, the Washington Post reported, working with JSX to create publicly available flights in conjunction with their road game schedule. Those flights still appear on the company’s website as “pop up flights” available for anyone to book.

The Aces booked such “pop up flights” during a recent three-game road trip, but the team was told by the WNBA to cancel one of the flights (a June 4 trip from Indianapolis to Hartford, Connecticut).

“The WNBA approved that all teams can book JSX flights with certain protocols in place,” a WNBA spokesperson told the Washington Post in response to a question about the canceled flight. “Since this is a new program this year, we had to address a few matters with teams earlier in the season.”

The Aces are no longer taking such flights, but they are not facing a fine from the WNBA, ESPN reported.