There is a line in the song “Glamorous” by Fergie that perfectly sums up how players travel to and from games: “We flying first class, up in the sky”. Players are seen coming off the bus in their fashionably lavish outfits and many fans probably assume that the players fly via private jet. While fans worry about the players on the field and their performance, the players are also concerned about how they are going to get to the game.
The MLB CBA states that each “Club” will pay the expenses of “Players” that travel “abroad” (traveling with the team to another city) including room and board, hotel accommodations and first-class flight (“MLB CBA”, 2012, pg. 23). Additionally, the Club must give written notice to the team’s Player Representative and the Player Association before December 1st of each year in regards to the hotels the team intends to use when traveling for away games and hotels in the Club’s home city (“MLB CBA”, 2012, pg. 23). If the Club is flying commercial and first-class accommodations cannot be provided, the Players will receive three seats for each two Players and first-class meals, provided by the Club.
In the NFL CBA, a player is qualified to receive reimbursement for moving expenses if they are:
Additionally, if a Player is traded or claimed during the League Year and makes the Active List, he will receive a voucher for first class round trip air fare for his wife or the equivalent in cash if she makes the trip by another mode of transportation, a sum not to exceed two months’ rent or mortgage payments for living quarters in the home city in which the player is traded to or claimed by, and the cost of a seven day stay at a hotel of the new Club’s choice “NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement”, 2011, pg. 166).
Finally, the NBA CBA states that when the Team is traveling “on the road”, they will try their best to:
(“NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement”, 2017, pg. 329)
If the Team violates any of the above provisions, the Team will be fined $5,000 by the NBA. In terms of travel, the Team will provide first class travel accommodations if the trip exceeds more than one hour. The Team does not need to provide first class accommodations if the Team’s head coach can fly first class in place of a player when eight or more first class seats are provided to the players. If the coach were to fly in place of a player, one player, who is designated by the Players Association, will be paid the difference between the amount paid by the Team for the seat and the allotted cost of the seat designated for the player. If the Team violates these travel accommodations, the NBA will fine the Team $5,000 (“NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement”, 2017, pg. 329).
While all three CBAs require the Team/Club to provide first class accommodations for travel and hotel, two out of the three professional leagues do not fine their Teams/Clubs for violating the travel accommodations portion of the CBA (NBA). With the roster of a basketball team being significantly smaller than those of a baseball or football roster, it is understandable that the Team should be able to make the correct accommodations to fly/charter their players for away games. The Players Associations for all three leagues have been able to provide first class travel accommodations for their representatives, both in the air and when playing an away game.