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Mile-high club 101: Everything you wanted to know about riding high while flying in the sky

By Maya Khamala

Airplane travel is anything but sexy—right? I mean, you get dehydrated, your skin gets all dried out, there's little to zero leg room, and it tends to smell vaguely of chemicals and fear (some people fear for their lives on planes, after all). No to mention, chances are you’re but a Covid-breath away from strangers and little kids (sorry not sorry for that one). 

Nonetheless, many a thrill seeker finds airplane sex (or the idea of airplane sex) hot AF. One common explanation for wanting to join the proverbial “mile-high club” is that the plane’s vibrations coupled with lower oxygen levels can actually heighten arousal and intensify orgasms. Meanwhile, others have fantasies about pilots or flight attendants, plane fetishes, or they simply get off on the adrenaline rush inherent in taboo acts—particularly ones where getting caught is a distinct possibility.

But although there is undeniable risk involved, doing the nasty in flight is a must-try (arguably) for anyone turned on by public sex.

Mile-high what? 

The mile-high club is essentially a slang term used to refer to people who have had sex on board an aircraft in flight—at an altitude of no less than 5280 feet (a mile above the earth). Fun fact: the mile-high club (MHC) has its own website where special MHC stickers, keychains, and personalized certificates are sold, and of course, anyone who’s had sex on a plane can submit their story to share with other like-minded pervs. The site also has a rather entertaining page detailing MHC “rules and regulations,” which harnesses business-like, contractual language to addresses concerns such as the environmental and economic impacts of sex on a plane.

Do people really do this shit?

Personally—though I do identify as a kinky mother—I find plane bathrooms gross—and impossibly tiny. But—to each their own, ‘nam sayin’? 

According to a 2011 Skyscanner survey, 95% of people want to join the mile-high club, yet in reality about 20% have actually gone and tried it. This is understandable—it’s easier said than done, y’all. Twenty percent, though, if you stop to think on it, is actually a lot of in-flight lavatory humping.

According to good ol’ Wikipedia, one of the earliest references to the notion of in-flight sex—found just two years after the first successful ascent of a hot balloon—is found in a 1785 betting book for Brooks's, a London gentlemen's club: “Ld. Cholmondeley has given two guineas to Ld. Derby, to receive 500 Gs whenever his lordship [has sex with] a woman in a balloon one thousand yards from the Earth.” Fast-forward to 1916, and a pilot named Lawrence Sperry, together with socialite Dorothy Rice Sims are known as the first duo to have had sex while flying in an airplane—an autopilot-equipped Curtiss Flying Boat near New York.

But that’s all ancient history, isn’t it? Hmm, maybe not. I mean, there’s British billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, who claimsto have joined the mile-high club at age 19, circa 1969. Why does plane sex sound way more fun in ’69? Then there's that infamous couple, who, in 2006, was arrested in part for refusing to stop openly having sex on a flight. The couple's lawyer, however, claimed that, in fact, the man was sick and resting his head in his partner's lap. Then, far more recently still, a passenger on a Ryanair flight earlier this year claims to have filmed a couple engaging in oral sex from the comfort of their seats. Something to be wary of if you go this dare-I-say daring route: it could end up online, yo.

Is it legal?

As with most worthwhile (or seemingly worthwhile) things in life, there is always an element of risk. Hell, that’s what got you interested in the first place, right? 

According to criminal lawyer Joseph Tully, “The Mile High Club might be exclusive and tempting but consider that while no state law might be applicable if no one sees you, there are surely some number of federal agencies that will find the conduct actionable. Since 9/11, it’s best not to stretch the limits on airplanes or you risk the unbridled wrath of Homeland Security—not an agency known for a sense of leniency or humor. Destination sex might be a better bet to stay off the no-fly list.”

According to one flight attendant who has caught several couples in the lavatories over the years, “Most of the time, if we see something going on and it’s not affecting anyone, we let it be ― and then high-five the couple afterwards. Just kidding. Honestly, I don’t think we have anything that specifically addresses it in our manuals. Fornication is frowned upon in the air if the seat belt sign is on, but ultimately it’s upto the discretion of the crew on board on how to deal with it.”

So, ultimately, the legality of expressing yourself sexually on an airplane depends heavily on the details (plus if anyone sees fit to complain or not). It turns out there’s a lot of grey area when it comes to boinking while flying. In the unfortunate event that you do get caught, however, the sex better be worth it, is all I have to say.

Is it safe?

When I think of safety here, my first thought is hygiene. Maybe it's because I’m prone to vaginal infections. I mean, I totally get being turned on by dirty, sweaty sex, I do. But if you do it on a plane, you’re basically doing it in an airborne porta-potty, just FYI. Even if the lavatory seems clean, it's not. Just think of all the people who miss the bull’s eye when the plane hits a bout of sudden turbulence! 

But safety ain’t restricted to infection, we all know that. So here’s something: the American transportation authority NTSB has reported one case in which sexual activity is at least partly responsible for an aviation accident. Translation: the odds are not so good that plane sex will cause a crash, so there is that. Though apparently anything is possible!

Risk and revulsion aside, this brings us to the most important aspect of membership in the mile-high club: how to do it well, and get away with it! Consider the following tips before you go there!

Understand the risks

Since we’ve established that joining the club ain’t totally legal, your worst case scenarios include indecent exposure charges, or potentially interfering with the flight crew, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years (very unlikely, but possible). But hey, understanding the risks will likely make you exercise a whole lot of caution and common sense.

Plan it, damnit

Planning in advance will go a long way toward a positive outcome, not to mention, there’s something to be said for the excitement of anticipation. Plus—there won’t be any danger of fellow passengers overhearing you discussing whether or not to do it. Not the most discreet look!

Timing, timing, timing

Scope out your target lavatory (personally I recommend not doing it in your seat—even if the row is empty). Your bathroom of choice should be at the back of the plane, so other passengers aren’t facing in the direction you’ve headed. One partner might head there first, followed by the other a few minutes later. Partner #2 should use a secret knock—y’know, to avoid awkward encounters with strangers, that kind of thing.

The logistics of dress

For the sake of efficient, easy access, consider going commando, and wearing a skirt, dress, kilt, or sarong. Or, in colder weather, sweatpants. You don’t have time to deal with buttons, zippers, and belts, plus, you’ll want as few obstacles as possible in case your ride gets, y’know, bumpy. 

Consider your position

Unless you’re a brilliant sexual maverick and have done this many times before, there are really only two possible positions: one involves one partner sitting on the toilet seat while the other does it reverse cowgirl style. The other marginally more hygienic option has one partner propped up on the sink facing the other. Once in position, don’t waste time—this is quite possibly the most exciting (and hilarious) quickie you’ll ever have. No matter what you do, never lean against the door, even if it’s locked—the last thing you want is to come crashing through with your junk out.

Have silent sex

It can be surprisingly hot to get off with your partner’s hand over your mouth, or your underwear jammed into your mouth. Whatever you do, avoid loud moaning or screaming if you want to avoid being heard by people lining up outside the door. Yes, you can be heard, even above the hum of the plane.

Have a plan if things go wrong

If something—anything—goes wrong and you get caught or almost caught, bring the air sickness bag in with you so you can pretend to be the comforting partner checking in on your nauseous SO. After all, what better reason is there for two people to be crammed into such a tight space?

Bottom line: the mile-high club awaits your naughty bid for membership! But, as with most risky endeavors, it always helps to be sober, aware of your surroundings, and generally on point. I have faith in you, you frisky flyer. So spread your wings and…take…flight. <3

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