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Mile high club

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An airplane lavatory prior to installation

The mile high club is slang for people who have had sexual intercourse on board an aircraft during flight.[1]

An alleged explanation for wanting to perform the act is the supposed vibration of the plane. Some also theorize that people who engage in the act have had personal fantasies about pilots, flight attendants, or other aircraft crew, or a fetish about planes themselves, a type of mechanophilia.[2] For others, the appeal of joining the mile-high club is the thrill of doing something taboo and the thrill of the risk of being discovered, as well as the thrill of simply engaging in sexual intercourse thousands of feet above the earth.[3]


An early reference to the concept is found in the betting book for Brooks's, a London gentlemen's club. The 1785 entry (only two years after the first successful balloon ascent by Étienne Montgolfier) reads: "Ld. Cholmondeley has given two guineas to Ld. Derby, to receive 500 Gs whenever his lordship fucks a woman in a Balloon one thousand yards from the Earth."[4] There is no further indication whether the bet was paid, or how any claim would be validated.

During the First World War, German ace Oswald Boelcke was disciplined by superiors for taking a nurse up in the cockpit of his fighter, allegedly becoming the first person to qualify as a member of the club (although the claim is dubious, considering the cramped cockpit space and the pilot requirement to constantly keep hands and feet on the control stick and rudder pedals; others maintain it was a simple joyride).[5]

Pilot/engineer Lawrence Sperry and socialite Dorothy Rice Sims have been described as the first persons to engage in sex while flying in an airplane;[6] the two flew in an autopilot-equipped Curtiss Flying Boat near New York in November 1916.[7][8][9]

The American National Transportation Safety Board reported on a 1991 incident in which sexual activity was at least partly responsible for the fatal crash of a Piper PA-34.[10]

In November 2007, the BBC reported a story headlined "Airline Bans A380 Mile-High Club". The Airbus A380 allows double beds to be installed in the first-class cabin, but Singapore Airlines' cabins are not soundproof; shortly after installing the new seats/beds, the airline requested that first-class travelers respect other passengers.[11]

Reported instances[edit]

Some incidents of people attempting sexual activity on planes have been reported in the media:

  • Richard Branson, the British billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the Virgin Group, including Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia, claimed that he joined the mile-high club at age 19 (c. 1969) in the plane's lavatory. Afterwards, he found out that his partner in the act was married, and the two had no relationship beyond the encounter in the plane.[12]
  • In October 1999, two passengers of an American Airlines flight from Dallas to Manchester were arrested after engaging in "sex acts" in front of other passengers in the business class section of the aircraft.[13] Both lost their jobs after the press storm following the incident.[14]
  • A 2005 British Airways flight from London to Jamaica diverted to Bermuda when a couple on board, who had possibly been intoxicated even before consuming more beer and wine on the plane, threatened flight attendants after they told them to return to their seats when the attendants found Fitzgerald giving a lap dance to Blake in a crew jump seat; ultimately, the two were physically confined to their seats. The two claimed later they had already had sex twice in the aircraft lavatory before their return to the UK. Blake was sentenced to prison and Fitzgerald was sentenced to community service.[15][16][17]
  • In late 2006, a couple was arrested in part for refusing to stop overt sexual activity on a flight in a case that received widespread media attention.[18] The couple's lawyer claimed that the couple were not engaging in sexual activity, but that the man was sick and resting his head on the woman's lap.
  • In 2007, British actor Ralph Fiennes was embroiled in scandal after having sex with a Qantas flight attendant on a flight from Sydney to Mumbai. After initial denials, it was established that they had had sex in the plane's lavatory, after which the flight attendant was suspended and later terminated.[19]
  • On a Virgin flight in February 2007, Danish co-founder of the Skype application, Janus Friis, openly had sex with Christina Knudsen, Roger Moore's stepdaughter, when travelling to the Academy Awards show.[20]


The BBC ran an article investigating whether sex on a plane was legal. Their conclusion was that it would depend on many factors, such as whether or not the act occurred in sight of others. If British law applied, for example, it may constitute sex in a lavatory to which the public has access, contrary to Sexual Offences Act 2003 s.71, with a maximum 6-month term of imprisonment.

Also, for international flights, the law could vary depending on departure and destination cities and the nation of the carrier airline,[21] as well as the country of registration of the aircraft, and possibly the citizenship of the people involved.

In January 2011, the United Kingdom's aviation regulator body, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), refused to recertify Mile-High Flights, an air charter company located in Gloucestershire, for allowing its passengers to have sex while in-flight.[22]

Charter flights[edit]

Some commercial enterprises cash in on people's interest in joining the "club" by offering special charter flights designed for the purpose.[23][24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hestor, Eliot Neal (21 September 1999). "Welcome to the Mile-High Club". Salon. Retrieved 6 January 2007.
  2. ^ Lovegrove, Keith (2000). Airline: Identity, Design & Culture. New York: Te Neues Publishing Company. ISBN 978-3-8238-5460-9. OCLC 247769755. Retrieved 5 January 2007.
  3. ^ "Sex: caught at it". TheSite.org. Archived from the original on 4 January 2007. Retrieved 5 January 2007.
  4. ^ L. G. Mitchell's biography of Charles James Fox. Quoted in Google Books
  5. ^ Ross, John F., Enduring Courage: Ace Pilot Eddie Rickenbacker and The Dawn of the Era of Speed. New York: St Martin's Press, 2014. p. 147.
  6. ^ Sperry Inc. History Archived 25 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Sperryinc.com. Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
  7. ^ "FROM HER SICK BED PLANS NEW FLIGHTS; Mrs. Pierce [sic], in a Plaster Cast, Gives Orders to Have Her Aeroplane Ready. TELLS OF FALLING 800 FEET; Aviatrice Says it Was 'Very Funny' When She and Sperry Went Into the Water Off Babylon". The New York Times. 28 November 1916. p. 24. Although she fell 800 feet in a hydro-aeroplane and was held fast for more than a minute in mud and wreckage seven feet under water, and suffered a fracture of the pelvis and other injuries, Mrs. Waldo Pierce [sic], daughter of Mrs. Isaac L. Rice, donor of the $1,000,000 fund for the Isaac L. Rice Hospital for Convalescents, has no intention of giving up flying.
  8. ^ The First at a "Mile-High". Check-Six.com.
  9. ^ John Baxter (10 February 2009). Carnal Knowledge: Baxter's Concise Encyclopedia of Modern Sex. HarperCollins. p. 5. ISBN 978-0-06-087434-6. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
  10. ^ "NTSB Identification: MIA92FA051". National Transportation Safety Board. 23 December 1991. Archived from the original on 5 November 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Airline bans A380 mile-high club". BBC News. 31 October 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2011.
  12. ^ Agence France-Presse, "I'm no mile-high club virgin", AFP, 29 July 2007.
  13. ^ "'Mile high' duo fined £2,250 for drunken antics". the Guardian. 6 April 2000. Retrieved 11 November 2022.
  14. ^ Fine for drunken plane couple. BBC News (5 April 2000). Retrieved on 2011-11-17.
  15. ^ "Jail terms for plane fracas pair". BBC News. 8 June 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  16. ^ "BA sex couple sentenced in U.K. court". Bermuda Sun. 13 June 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2017. The Guardian reported how cabin crew saw the pair acting drunk with Fitzgerald gyrating her hips on Blake's groin as they sat on a seat reserved for cabin crew.
  17. ^ "Mile-high pair admit air rage". Metro. 14 May 2007. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  18. ^ abcnews.go.com, "California Man May Go to Prison for Inappropriate Touching on Plane", 5 May 2007.
  19. ^ "Ralph Fiennes: I was the victim". The Daily Telegraph. 18 February 2007. Retrieved 5 September 2021.
  20. ^ "Hade sex öppet ombord". Expressen. 12 March 2007.
  21. ^ "Is sex on a plane legal?". BBC News. 14 February 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2007.
  22. ^ "Sex Flights Gets Grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority". AvStop.com. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  23. ^ Kitty Bean Yancy (8 September 2006). "A flight that goes all the way". USA Today. Retrieved 3 October 2006.
  24. ^ Shane O’Neill (5 February 2022). "The Mile High Club, Complete With Membership Cards". New York Times. Retrieved 5 February 2022.

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