THE TAXING travel burden on WA-based players and the associated financial cost for their clubs will be eased when more business class seats are provided on cross-country flights from next season.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that the AFL's collective bargaining agreement struck with the AFL Players' Association would cover an additional dozen business class seats for Eagles and Dockers players.
"We're delighted with the 12 business class airfares for our players, we think it's a terrific outcome from a player welfare point of view," Eagles general manager of football Craig Vozzo told AFL.com.au.
"The fact that the AFL are paying for it as part of the CBA is a really good outcome for us as a travelling football club.
"We've always looked to provide additional business class flights for our players, but they've been at our cost in the past, so this is a much welcomed change."
The WA clubs travel significantly further than the other 16 teams, and currently attempt to secure as much extra legroom in business class or exit rows for players wherever possible.
"It would be a great outcome if all 22 to 24 (travelling) players could be sorted with some level of comfort," Vozzo said.
"Player comfort is really important from our point of view, particularly with the older guys, they really appreciate the extra comfort and legroom both pre(-game) but particularly post-game.
"I think it's a really good innovation that's been a long time coming."
The new travel arrangements will go a small way to helping address the competitive disadvantage faced by West Coast and Fremantle.
Retired Dockers legend Matthew Pavlich, who is the AFL Players' Association president, is the only WA-based player to pass the 300-game milestone and understands better than anyone the travel burden.
"In an ideal world, we'd love all players to fly business class all around the country," Pavlich said.
"Clearly that wasn't able to be achievable so the team that flies the most and the furthest, that was a priority to alleviate some of that competitive balance issue.
"It's a good outcome. It's not exactly where nirvana would have been, but it's a good thing for the WA clubs, which I can strongly advocate for."