MIAMI – The life of an elite professional athlete is a lavish one. They own a fleet of cars, are chauffeured to practice and around town. They are seen at the biggest and best social events and they all take private jets around the world, racking up a lifetime of air miles in a year.

Although most of the above is true, research into how NFL players travel shows private jets aren’t used nearly as much as the public may think. No, you won’t see the stars of the sport crammed onto commercial flights, cramming their kits into hand luggage, but the truth isn’t a million miles away.

Distance to travel for games, overnight stays, and the type of journey they had is important to how a sports team performs. It details fans using football and basketball gambling sites and apps to predict the outcome of a game are desperate to get their hands on. Let’s take a closer look and reveal how NFL players travel.

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Patriots Fly in Style

We’ll start by squashing that old private jet rumor. It’s a popular misconception that every NFL team has their own private jet they use to fly football players around the country in luxury, allowing them to kick back, relax and prepare for an upcoming fixture.

Research reveals a different story, one that will please those concerned about the impact sports travel has on the economy. At the last count, only one NFL team owns and uses a private jet. Who is the team? Well, many lovers of American Football won’t be blown away to learn it is the New England Patriots.

The Patriots are one of the sport’s most successful teams with no less than six Super Bowl Championships won between 2001 and 2018. They also employ some of the biggest names in football, spending top dollar to attract the cream of the crop. That spending power extends to travel, The Patriots snapping up two used Boeing 767s a few years ago.

The planes purchased and used by New England are the same ones American Airlines (AA) uses. They boast recliner seats in first-class and are laid out in a roomy 2-2-2 configuration. That’s great news for those weary Patriots players but with each seat having its own entertainment system installed it’s easy to imagine the hours just fly by.

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-642. Photo: Daniel Sander/Airways

Luxury and Convenience without the Price Tag

If the Patriots are the only team to travel by private jet, how do their rivals get around the country? They charter flights, of course. That comes with all the luxury, convenience, and style of a private jet but at a percentage of the cost. Airlines like AA, United Airlines (UA), and Delta Air Lines (DL) are responsible for getting NFL players, coaches, and officials from A to B for road games.

This led to DL calling themselves the Official Airline of Champions because they are responsible for flying the top names in American Football the length and breadth of the United States as well as overseas to games in Europe, such as London, England. In more recent times, due to the rise in games played in the UK, British airline Virgin have begun playing their part.

So, although just one NFL team flies by private jet, you can forget about striking lucky and being sat beside your favourite football player on a commercial flight from American to London. A bit of a shame really, we’re sure it would spark some very interesting conversations. Perhaps not. Could you imagine the star quarterback playing after being stuck beside a screaming baby for hours?

Photo: Francesco Cecchetti/Airways

Let’s Talk about Money

So, how much does this extravagant travel cost your favorite football team? It’s not cheap, we’re sure you can imagine. But what would you say when learning it has more than doubled in recent years? A report suggested each team spends US$4m a season to travel.

That number is rising all the time with airlines continuing to ramp up their costs. For a chartered flight to be worth it for the airline it must pay as close to a commercial flight as possible. Flying high with the stars is one thing, but it must make good business sense to those with the wings.

Featured image: New England Patriots N36NE Boeing 767-323(ER). Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways