It’s a new era in the NFL for travel, and changes to plane availability have resulted in multiple teams switching from one plane to two for road trips.
PFT has learned that at least three teams will be using two planes this year: The Steelers, Bills, and Dolphins. (We became aware of the issue via a report from Andy Slater of WINZ regarding the Dolphins using two planes.)
The Bills will be using two planes for most trips, but not of all of them.
Earlier this year, several teams had to scramble to find air service when American restricted access. As one league source recently explained it to PFT, the airlines simply have realized that they can make more money by using planes in more traditional ways.
It’s odd to see the NFL at the mercy of the airline industry, because usually it’s pretty much everyone else who’s at the mercy of the NFL. This has sparked some speculation that perhaps the best play for the league would be to maintain its own fleet of planes that would transport teams each and every weekend, when up to 16 teams travel. The planes then would be leased for use in the offseason to corporate groups and muckety-mucks who want to travel in a bird bedazzled with NFL logos.
If/when a non-mainstream outfit like Miami Air (all due respect) fails to get the Dolphins or Steelers to a game on time, that could be the trigger for change. Until then, the new normal will include lesser availability, greater expense, and in some cities multiple aircraft.