WNBA Proposes Charter Flights for Traveling Moms, Easing Professional and Parenting Responsibilities


In an exemplary display of adapting to the needs of its players, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) brought forth an early Mother’s Day treat for Indiana Fever wing player, Katie Lou Samuelson, along with a dozen other players across the league with children. The WNBA announced the provision of charter flights for players to travel to away games, a welcomed resolution that eases concerns over security and the logistical challenges of traveling with young children on commercial flights.

Samuelson greeted this news with relief and enthusiasm, as a recent addition to the ranks of motherhood herself. She gave birth to her daughter, Aliya Renea Cannady, last August and the prospect of traveling with a nine-month-old on a charter, instead of a commercial flight, seems more manageable. “She’ll be on a lot of road trips,” noted Samuelson. This news deviates from the norm, as many players would previously forgo the option of taking their kids on the road due to the requirements and difficulties of flying commercially with young children.

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Breanna Stewart, mother of two children with wife Marta, expressed her shared appreciation for the newly instated privilege. The charter flights supplement the existing benefits accrued under the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which range from players receiving their full salaries during maternity leave, a significant increase over the previous agreement where pay was slashed by half, to providing a $5,000 childcare stipend, and arranging for two-bedroom apartments for mothers in the league.

Added to the roster of existing amenities is access to suitable and private nursing spaces at game arenas with the added convenience of a refrigerator to store breast milk. DeWanna Bonner of Connecticut called attention to the mental strain of juggling motherhood with a professional career in basketball and anticipates continued progress in the future. She expressed hopeful sentiments that the situation for mothers in the professional sports industry would improve.

Nitching the scene back to an earlier era, Sun Coach Stephanie White reminisced about the rigors and challenges that her former teammate Niele Ivey was subjected to after giving birth to her son. White stated, “It was difficult. Not much was readily available. She had to contend with bringing him to practice, where he’d remain in his car seat, or having someone accompany him. On the road, it involved sharing a room or footing the bill for a separate one.”

There are encouraging signs that change is in the wind. The Stadium in Phoenix has blazed a trail by arranging a special family playroom since 2018, which is accessible before, during, and after games, a privilege from which Mercury families will also benefit this season.

All this has not stopped players like Stewart from hoping for even more substantial changes in the future. “Kids are expensive,” said Stewart, asserting that the childcare stipend should be allocated per child. A pressing concern, she points out, is a need to decrease the eight-year tenure required to qualify for certain family planning benefits, which include provisions for costs related to routines such as adoption, surrogacy, fertility treatments, egg freezing, among others that are capped at a maximum of $60,000 per player.

While the generational shift is underway, the Paris Games could see some new bonding experiences for WNBA moms. With the number of players who are also mothers steadily growing, a potential group chat is on the horizon for the league’s moms. This new initiative looks set to enhance and support both the professional and familial responsibilities of players, bringing them toward a balance that allows them to flourish in both roles.