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WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced last week charter flights would begin this season. However, several details, including the exact start date for the program, were left vague. 

On the penultimate day of the season, it became clear not all teams will have the option to charter for opening day Tuesday. The 2023 WNBA MVP and WNBPA executive board member Breanna Stewart confirmed the New York Liberty will not charter to their game against the Washington Mystics

"2 out of 5 WNBA teams traveling today are on WNBA charters - and that's a win," Stewart posted on social media. "It could be a bigger one if the W allowed teams who were not offered League charters to secure their own until a full 12 team solution is ready."

CBS Sports reached out to the WNBPA last week for a statement regarding the pending charter flight program. We received the following statement from union president Nneka Ogwumike via text message.

"I am thrilled to see a significant change in policy that will permit and provide charter travel across all teams throughout the 2024 season and going forward," Ogwumike said. "On behalf of the players, I express my appreciation and support for a bold move by the commissioner and team governors that in turn shows that they understand and value the health and safety of the players. It is time to be transformational. It's time to bet on women."

Ogwumike's statement was added to the league press release the following day.

"We have been hard at work to transform the business and build a sustainable economic model to support charter flights for the long term," Engelbert said in Thursday's statement. "While we still have a lot of work to do to continue to execute our strategic plan, we feel confident that the time is now to institute a full charter program to demonstrate our commitment to leading with a player-first agenda." 

Engelbert and her team have successfully moved the needle toward a "sustainable economic model" in the past couple years. In February 2022, the league announced a $75 million capital raise, the largest ever for a women's sports league. In October 2023, the league awarded the Golden State Warriors ownership group the WNBA Bay Arena expansion franchise for a record $50 million expansion fee. (Coincidentally, that group unveiled its team name of the Golden State Valkyries on Tuesday.) Additionally, the league is expected to close a new TV deal by next season and the CBC reported the WNBA will expand to Toronto in 2026. 

This is coupled with a 200% year-over-year increase in revenue and a 16% increase in attendance during the 2023 season. Engelbert joined CBS Sports HQ to discuss the rapid growth in the league.

"We'd already been growing, but now we're going to double down on storytelling," Engelbert said with respect to rookie stars like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardoso and Cameron Brink beginning their professional careers this week. 

As the league grows, things like expansion and charter flights will become more commonplace. However, for now, that means there is a learning curve for all parties with the charter rollout being the latest example. 

CBS Sports reached out to the WNBA to clarify if the charter program would start on opening night. The league rep pointed us back to the official release. Although no specific timeline was announced, Engelbert stated in the release the program would begin "as soon as practical for the 2024 and 2025 seasons." 

For the Indiana Fever and Minnesota Lynx, that will be in time for their first game. However, the other three teams -- Liberty, Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury -- playing on the road Tuesday will not fly in a private jet.

CBS Sports heard from sources with knowledge of the situation that teams were asked to submit their charter requests for the full season sometime last week. By the weekend, teams were informed if their requests for a charter flight for opening week were accepted or not. Other than that, there has not been much communication on the matter. 

"We're definitely one of the teams that impacts the most because our travel is the toughest. And teams coming here. You know, it's the toughest place to get in and out of with the airport distance from the arena. Not a lot of direct flights out of Connecticut to different places," Sun guard Dijonai Carrington told CBS Sports Tuesday morning. 

Carrington, who is the WNBPA representative for the Sun, added that although the charter flights are much appreciated, the execution is lacking. 

"It's tough that the season is starting today and we're still trying to figure out those kinks. But some teams haven't figured it out. I don't know. It's just -- not happy about it, especially as a member of the players' union," she added. 

Last season, Brittney Griner was harassed in a "inappropriate and unfortunate" incident at a Dallas airport. Griner, who is sidelined with a foot injury, and the Mercury will open their season on the road against the Las Vegas Aces. 

"[The league] talked about it as a safety issue safety concern, but it has been for a while and this isn't the first time it has been a safety concern or a safety issue," Carrington said after the Sun's game day shootaround at Mohegan Sun. 

"I think in the implementation there's an opportunity for us to be transformational together," WNBPA executive director Terri Jackson told ESPN on Monday. "And I think there's still time for us to do that." 

To that end, Chicago Sky beat writer Annie Costabile reported WNBA players will participate in a town hall with Engelbert to get more clarity on the charter program rollout. However, according to Carrington, the town hall did little to clarify the program, or how charters were implemented without renegotiating the CBA. 

The charter flight issue has been tabbed a CBA issue in the past. Specifically, the active contract prohibits teams from booking charter flight to avoid a competitive advantage. However, it is unclear if the current CBA has been amended to make way for the charter flight rollout. 

"Now, in this moment, the league has found its pathway to yes. It just seems that the pathway has a few more bumps than perhaps were needed," Jackson told ESPN. 

Carrington is under the impression charter flights should be part of the forthcoming CBA negotiations. Especially as players continue to express confusion and concerns with the rollout of the program. 

"[Charters flights] definitely is a competitive advantage. And we all understood why. Okay, if everyone can't have it, no one can have it. So I feel like if that's what it was for all these years, it's should continue to be that," she said Tuesday.

Needless to say, there are still questions. The hope is players will receive adequate answers, and a comprehensive timeline for the charter program rollout will be made available soon.