The Mile High Club: fact or fiction?

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When two Brits, Richard Havers and Chris Tiffney, researched their exposé Airline Confidential: Lifting the Lid on the Airline Industry, they uncovered some hilarious, ghastly, and amazing stories. For example, here's what they learned about the "mile high club."

Get any group of people talking about the airline business, and flying in general, and people will mention one of two things. Either it's the great lost baggage story or it's the legendary mile high club. There are few who readily admit to being a member of the club. Even those who are keen to brag of their membership are probably lying, and not just because there are, in reality, so few who have actually done it.

The fact is that most commercial aircraft fly at closer to seven miles high. In order to be technically correct if you are a member of the mile high club then the chances are you will have needed to have "done it" either during climb or in the descent, which means that you should have been wearing your seatbelt!

A recent survey found that around 9 percent of people admitted to having has sex on board a commercial airliner. The respondents were evenly split between men and women, perhaps indicating that the traditional wisdom that men tend to brag and women tend to be modest when asked questions about sex may be fading. Before you start checking around you on your next flight to see if close to one in ten people are at it, don't forget that only means that they may have done it on one occasion, not every time they fly!

What is it that makes talk of sexual exploits on board aircraft so fascinating? It's possibly linked to the whole romance that used to be associated with flying. In the days when aircraft actually had proper bunk beds, and when air travel was the preserve of the very rich and the very famous; back then passengers were probably both. These days with air travel being more akin to getting on and off a bus the romance has very definitely gone out of flying.

Another aspect of the whole sex and travel routine is the single guy, and particularly the businessman who somehow thinks that every air stewardess, flight attendant, trolley dolly, call them what you like, is going to be instantly attracted to them. Watching lonely business travelers chatting up flight attendants is still one of the saddest sights to behold. New research shows that air stewardesses are facing increasing levels of harassment. Even the British Medical Journal has got in on the act claiming that passengers have pestered one in five stewardesses. The research was undertaken among 2,000 stewardesses who worked between 1965 and 1995 for Alitalia, the Italian airline. We will refrain from making any comment.

You can read more funny tales like this in both the book, its upcoming sequel, and the Airline Confidential blog.

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