Sex on an Airplane: What It’s Really Like to Join the ‘Mile High Club’

It might seem totally impractical and embarrassing to engage in sexual activity on an airplane — but the mile high club has been around a lot longer than you think. According to the official website, it all started in the winter of 1916, when one particular pilot was giving flying lessons to a New York socialite and created the autopilot feature so he could have sex with her while flying. Things went wrong, however, and the plane plunged 500 feet into a bay below.

They both survived, but it left us wondering — what’s the mile high club like today? From flight attendants reporting on what they’ve seen to passengers who’ve done the deed above 5,280 feet themselves, here’s what we found out.

You can get away with it without landing in jail — but it’s still highly frowned upon

Ilana sitting on an airplane.

Have you ever had this fantasy? | Giphy

This one may surprise you. If you’re traveling internationally, this varies — but for domestic flights across the U.S., technically speaking, it’s not illegal to join the mile high club as long as you do it right.

If you are having sex at 5,280 feet or above, it’s vital that you’re not exposing yourself to other passengers. Thrillist says indecent exposure or interference with flight crew can carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years in the U.S. And if you’re under British law, BBC News says it’s criminal to have sex in a public bathroom. Even if you’re in a scenario where it’s not technically illegal, be prepared for shameful looks for anyone who notices what you’re up to.

Flight attendants say long overnight flights are best

Archer taking off his uniform.

Risky business for sure. | Giphy

As one flight attendant tells Travel + Leisure, for those looking to join the mile high club, long flights that are near-empty are best. And if it’s a red-eye flight, you’re likely to have better luck. “A lot of them are overnight, so people have time to drink, the cabin gets dark, and off you go,” suggests the attendant.

Another flight attendant also suggests if you’re flying on an international red-eye flight, the attendants take their breaks after the first meal service. Wait for the cabin lights to go out in the front of the plane, and then proceed.

First or business class is the way to go

An airplane disappearing behind white clouds.

Do what you wish, but know the risks. | Giphy

As the blog Flygirl notes, it’s no coincidence many people who boast their mile high club status are rarely in economy seating. Since most sexual activity on an airplane occurs in bathrooms, the cramped lavatories near economy seating really aren’t ideal. And Airbus 380 planes that airlines such as British Airways and Air France frequently fly reportedly have huge, beautiful bathrooms.

Keep this in mind, though — bathroom doors on airplanes can be opened from the outside.

It’s not just passengers participating in the club

A blonde woman leans over to another passenger.

You’ll come across the option sooner or later. | Giphy

First off, more people are participating in mile-high fun than you think. Refinery29 says out of 2,000 passengers surveyed by Stratos Jets, 17% said they had done something sexual on a plane. To put that into perspective, that means on any given 200-person flight, 33 of those people are hooking up.

And that’s not all — Maxim reports another survey by a British airfare search engine found out of 700 flight attendants surveyed, 21% had sex with a colleague, and 14% said they’d done it with a passenger.

Some airlines are made just for mile high club members

Two people struggling inside an airplane bathroom.

It might not be the sexiest thing you ever do, but its worth a try. | Giphy

There’s good news for those who want to join the club without landing themselves in hot water with the airline. Business Insider notes Flamingo Air is specifically for passengers who want to have sex in the air, as they offer private flights just for this purpose.

The airline is based out of Cincinnati, Ohio. For the price of $495, passengers get a private, hour-long flight. While other airlines tried to advertise the same sort of deal, Flamingo Air advertised the whole thing as a more romantic adventure rather than just a quick sexual fantasy. Seeing as they’re located on the edge of the Bible Belt, this marketing really worked.

Having sex on a plane might leave you sick

A flight attendant waves her finger.

One reason why you might want to avoid it. | Giphy

If you’ve never considered just how unsanitary airplanes are, now’s the time. The New York Post says your seat area is full of germs that can give you a cold, the flu, or a staph infection — and when it comes to the bathroom, matters get even worse. You might come into contact with E. coli from bacteria found in fecal matter during your tryst.

As Dr. Neil Nandi tells the publication anywhere near the toilet, including the lid, is fair game for nasty bacteria to accumulate. And the handle on the bathroom door is also one of the worst offenders. Keep this in mind if that’s the place you’re headed with your partner on your flight.

Is sex really better in the air?

Samantha and Miranda at a resturaunt.

Here’s what science has to say. | Giphy

We know what you’re thinking — if you’re not the adventurous type, is going through the trouble really worth it? While some flight attendants say being at such a high altitude dulls your senses, Susan Quilliam, sex and relationship writer, disagrees. Bustle reports Quilliam says flying can lower the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. This can make you feel even more aroused, especially if the novelty of the plane is also exciting to you. There’s also the vibrations from turbulence and the aircraft to consider.

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