The Indiana Fever had quite an adventure getting back home after finishing off a three-game road trip in Seattle this weekend.
Suffice to say, Fever veteran Natalie Achonwa didn’t expect the trip would involve an 8 ½-hour bus haul.
“Control the controllables. … outside of that, I’m just along for the ride!” she tweeted, chronicling the travel woes on social media .
Everything looked easy enough: Indiana played Sunday afternoon against the Storm and was set to fly the redeye back to Indiana, connecting in Atlanta. The team had about an hour window to catch the connecting flight.
That normally wouldn’t be a problem. But the plane — originally scheduled to take off at 10:30 p.m. Pacific time — was delayed because the flight crew hadn’t arrived yet.
And when the team boarded the plane, the pilot announced shortly before wheels up that everyone had to get off because of mechanical issues.
Getting on the new plane provided small consolation. The players were offered blankets, Achonwa said.
By the time the Fever landed in Atlanta on Monday, more trouble: They missed their original connecting flight and, with an 18-member traveling party, couldn’t get another plane back to Indiana.
So the team boarded a bus for the long ride from Atlanta to Indianapolis. That, too, had its hiccups as the Fever had to switch drivers midway through because the first operator was going to exceed their allowable hours of driving.
Indiana started its road swing in Atlanta last Wednesday. The last part of the trip, Seattle to Indy, was expected to take 22 hours.
The Fever’s bags, meanwhile, had a lot easier time. They actually made the original connecting flight and team equipment managers picked them up and brought them to the arena, right on time.
This wasn’t the first time that a WNBA team had travel trauma. The Las Vegas Aces forfeited a game last season against Washington when they couldn’t get to D.C. until a few hours before the tip. The Fever had their own woes in 2015 when they couldn’t make it from D.C. to Connecticut because of flight issues.
Traveling is an issue that will be discussed in the upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations as the current contract expires after this season. Players have discussed flying on charter planes, but the cost is prohibitive to making that a realistic possibility right now, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Associated Press in an interview in December. Silver said the league could be amenable to chartering at appropriate times.
In 2013, the league approved New York taking a charter flight to Indiana for a game when all other flight options were exhausted. A compromise between the current state of travel and chartering flights, such as getting TSA PreCheck, would help, although in this situation it wouldn’t have.
Indiana won’t have too much time to relax when it finally gets home to host Minnesota on Tuesday night. The Lynx, by the way, arrived in Indiana late Monday afternoon without any issues.
Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg