When your favorite players and teams head out for a tournament or a tough road game, you want them to arrive raring to go, which means resting up and getting ready on the team flight. All teams fly in style today, but which teams travel best?
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Some athletes own their own private jets. For example, LeBron James owns a Gulfstream G280, David Beckham owns a Bombardier Challenger 350, Michael Jordan owns a specially-branded Gulfstream G-IV, Cristiano Ronaldo owns a Gulfstream G650, Lionel Messi owns an Embraer Legacy 650.
Giants of tennis or golf such as Roger Federer and Tiger Woods own private jets as well. NASCAR drivers are also known to travel in style.
When Masahiro Tanaka first traveled from Japan to report to the Yankees in 2014, he did so arriving on a private Boeing 787.
Some of the best teams of all-time have traveled in style. When Eddie DeBartolo Jr. owned the Joe Montana/Steve Young/Jerry Rice San Francisco 49ers, they traveled via private plane, with in-flight chef service. The result? That five-time Super Bowl-winning Niners dynasty had the best road record of the 1980s.
NHL teams travel via chartered flights. All seven Canadian NHL teams travel via Air Canada Jetz, a specialty sports travel service. In 2015, Delta Airlines struck a deal to charter specially-customized flights for 27 of 30 NBA teams. By contrast, the WNBA forbids such deals, insisting all teams travel equally.
Then there is the fact that plenty of owners of these teams have their own private jets. Obviously when you’re a billionaire owner you can expect to fly in style. Thankfully, as time has passed and franchises have become more profitable, that wealth has filtered back into the team’s private planes.
As a result, players today for leagues across the world fly in greater comfort than ever. This is the list of the top nine sports teams with the best private jets in America and Europe.
1. New York Jets
It would be absurd for a team literally named the “New York Jets” not to jet out of New York in private or chartered jets. Granted, the team has crashed and burned over the past decade-plus, but with newly-drafted quarterback Zack Wilson, they hope to turn it around.
The Jets and a couple of other NFL teams who opt for private planes fly in a Boeing 767. Their version of the plane features seats that are spread out far enough so players get extra room (which makes sense given how big football players often are).
The Boeing 767 measures 159 ft with a wingspan of 156 ft 1 in., has a maximum payload of 73,350 lbs, and is powered by either 2 x JT9D, PW4000, or CF6e engines, which allow it to reach up to 559 mph.
2. New England Patriots
Chances are, if you care about the NFL, you’re either a New England Patriots fan or you hate the Pats. The team has won six Super Bowls, all in the past 20 years, thanks to quarterback Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and owner Robert Kraft.
That hate may dissipate a bit now that Tom Brady’s winning Bowls with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (your move, Bill Belichick). However, what hasn’t changed is that the Patriots are the only NFL team, perhaps the only pro sports team, with not one but two 767S.
The digs on the Patriots’ private planes include seats spaced even more so than on the Jets’ and Cardinals’ jets and soft reclining seats, each of which also includes its own entertainment system.
3. Arizona Cardinals
They may not be the best team in the NFL – in fact, they’re historically one of the worst – but at least the Cardinals know how to travel in style, with the team renting out an Airbus 319 for their players.
In fact, the Cardinals’ variant of this plane is specially decked out in the team’s colors. As with the Jets’ plane, the interior of this model is specially outfitted so as to allow as much room as possible for the players to spread out and relax.
The Airbus 319 measures 159 ft 2 in., has a wingspan of 117 ft 5 in., and can be powered by either 2 x CFM56-5B or IAE V2500A5, either of which allows the craft to reach speeds of 585 mph.
4. Dallas Cowboys (Jerry Jones)
This may be cheating a bit, but given that his Dallas Cowboys have been mired in mediocrity and haven’t been to the Super Bowl in over 25 years, Cowboys fans should just be happy they’re on a “best of” list at all. (“How ‘bout them Cowboys” indeed.)
Still, even if “America’s Team” has been more of “America’s Perpetual NFL Drama” the past few seasons (it’s almost like Dallas is famous for soap operas or something) Jerry flies to games in style. The Cowboys owner and oil baron owns a top-flight Gulfstream G550.
It measures 96 ft 5 in. with a wingspan of 93 ft 6 in., has a maximum takeoff weight of 91,000 lbs, and is powered by 2 × Rolls-Royce BR70 C4-11 turbofan engines with a top speed of 585 mph and a range of 7,770 mi. Touchdowns or no, at least Jerry can “touch down” in style.
5. Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees (in London)
Most of the time, MLB teams also charter private planes. What the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox did when they flew to London to play the first-ever MLB game in Europe on June 29 and 30 of 2019, however, was special, and not just for baseball.
The Red Sox and Yankees arrived for the London Series on a Boeing 777. Noted for its spaciousness and luxury, it’s a favorite for international sports firsts. The Vancouver Canucks used a 777 to fly to Shanghai in 2014, beating the Los Angeles Kings in China’s first ever NHL game.
The 777 variant the Sox and Yanks used measures 209 ft 1 in., has over 300 seats, has a top speed of 587 mph, has a range of over 8,100 mi, and can be powered by 2 x PW4000, Trent 800, or GE90 engines.
6. Liverpool FC
This is another example of a team chartering rather than outright owning a private jet. Even so, the Reds still fly in style, arriving back from their 2019 Champions League victory in a specially-customized Boeing 767-300ER.
Even if they charter rather than own jets outright, European football teams have a history of promoting airlines on their kits. The most notable of these is probably the Emirates logo which you’ll find emblazoned across the chests of Madrid FC players, including Ronaldo from 2009 to 2018.
As for Liverpool’s plane, the 300ER is an upgraded version of the aforementioned 767 that features greater fuel tankage and can be powered by Rolls-Royce RB211, Pratt & Whitney PW4000, or General Electric CF6. It is the most popular and has been the most successful variant of the 767 for Boeing.
7. Los Angeles Lakers
One team not in that 27-of-30 NBA deal with Delta are the Lakers. One of the most famous and glamorous franchises in the world, the Hollywood Hardcourt Heroes, home to Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt, Kareem, Magic, Kobe, Shaq, LeBron, and a record-tying 17 NBA Championships have their own jet.
The model has changed over the years. The Lakers’ team plane actually almost crashed in 1960 when they were still the Minneapolis Lakers. In those days, the team flew in 1930s-era DC-3s, and delays and poor weather almost led to disaster.
Mitch Kupchak, former Lakers player and former front office executive during the Kobe-Shaq years, has actually been spotted flying on regular flights with Southwest Airlines instead. By contrast, as noted above, LeBron actually has his own Gulfstream and so he flies separately from the team.
8. Boston Celtics
Tying the Lakers with 17 titles are their decades-old arch-rivals, the Boston Celtics. From the glory years of Magic Johnson versus Larry Bird to the clashes with Kobe Bryant versus Paul Pierce, the NBA’s winningest teams both travel in style. Just like the Lakers, the Celtics have their own jet.
Unveiled in 2016, the Celtics fly around in a specially-customized Airbus A320, an expansion of an already-existing business partnership between JetBlue and the Celtics. Named “Lucky Blue,” it is painted green and features their famous Lucky the Leprechaun logo.
The Airbus A320 measures 123 ft 3 in. with a wingspan of 117 ft 5 in., has a maximum payload of 44,000 lbs, and is powered by 2 x IAE V2500-A5 engines that allows it to achieve speeds of up to 541 mph.
9. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs may not be a historically-great team the way the Lakers and Celtics are (although they did win the title in 2011). Still, when your owner is Mark Cuban, you can at least count on money being spent on the team, and the Mavs do indeed travel in style.
The Mavs fly around in a Boeing 767-277 that has been customized to suit Mark Cuban’s taste for luxury. As with football players, basketball players are often on the larger side.
Given how tall they are, it’s understandable that they’d want some extra leg room, and Cuban’s custom 767 obliges. Add to that some incredibly stylish interiors, comfortable seats, and a ton of extra features, and there’s no doubt the Mavs have one of the most stylish private planes in pro sports.