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The debate surrounding the WNBA’s use of commercial flights has come back into the spotlight after former women’s college basketball star Caitlin Clark made her first trip with the Indiana Fever to Texas this week ahead of their preseason game against the Dallas Wings. 

Video shared on social media Thursday showed the WNBA No. 1 overall pick and her teammates arriving at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. 

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark speaks with the media after the WNBA basketball team practiced in Indianapolis, Sunday, April 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The immediate response from social media users was why the league wasn’t flying the team on a charter flight – something the Iowa program utilized during Clark’s time as a Hawkeye. 

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“It’ll definitely be an adjustment, but it is what it is,” Clark said of the issue while speaking to the media on Thursday. 

“At this point of my career and across the WNBA, it is what it is. I’m sure, certainly, everybody would say that they would love to be flying charter all the time – that definitely would help a lot of problems. But I think the fever organization has done a really good job of getting out ahead of things. There’s going to be a lot of security traveling with us, there will be certain plans of how we’re going to navigate going throughout airports and things like that.” 

Becoming the NCAA Division 1 all-time leading scorer, Clark helped the NCAA reach its best viewership in history for women’s basketball, with nearly 19 million fans watching the title game. 

Caitlin Clark at the WNBA Draft held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 15, 2024, in New York. (Cora Veltman/Sportico via Getty Images)

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The hope is that it will translate to the WNBA, and if it does, it could present a safety issue at airports. 

“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,” Clark continued Thursday. 

“But at the same time, that’s a positive thing, too. You want people to be excited about our game. Hopefully, it changes in the near future, but for now that’s just what it is, and everybody’s dealing with the same thing. You can’t use it as an excuse.” 

Caitlin Clark, #22 of the Indiana Fever, talks to reporters during media day activities  at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on May 1, 2024, in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

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Fever general manager Lin Dunn told reporters Thursday that the team has security measures in place, but declined to disclose the details. 

“We’re certainly aware of what took place at Iowa when she traveled to away arenas, and certainly we’re aware of what happened at Ohio State, and we’re going to take all the precautions we can to make sure that not only is she safe, but that I’m safe – that we’re all safe, that all the players are prepared to be safe and secure.”

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

“No one wants (charters) more than I do for these players. We need to be in the right financial position,” Engelbert said. “Just a few years ago, we were surviving. Now we’re going from survive to thrive. We want to do it at the appropriate time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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