The Mile High Club Still Exists—If You Count Hand Stuff

A brief survey of today’s sex in the sky.
mile high club sex on an airplane
Collage by Cathryn Virginia. Getty Images.

In my childhood, the concept of the “Mile High Club” carried some cultural weight. Obviously, I had no idea what it meant, but it was big in songs like Nickelback’s “Rockstar” or in Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer. I assumed it would have much more clarity and importance in my adult years—but as I got older, it seemed that the Mile High Club had been relegated to the same category as quicksand or the Bermuda Triangle, things that dominate the young psyche then end up entirely irrelevant in adulthood. 


Does anyone actually have sex on airplanes these days? Is it even any fun to try to squeeze two people into a likely-filthy public bathroom barely designed to accommodate one? Well, according to various flyers and flight attendants, the Mile High Club hasn’t closed its membership. Maybe it’s rare for people to have full-on insertive intercourse on planes today, but they are absolutely still doing hand stuff. 

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Why someone wouldn’t want to have sex on an airplane seems obvious. Above all, it’s impractical. Beyond just the griminess and cramped size of the bathrooms, there’s the fact that you’re surrounded by potentially-inconvenienced fellow passengers and flight attendants who might get you into trouble. But for some, these factors are more enticing than off-putting. The risk, the dirtiness, and the general thrill of being up in the air have the potential to make the experience all the more erotic. On international flights or for people seated in first class, some of these downsides may be mitigated, too. Perhaps everyone is asleep after rounds of free drinks, and the flight attendants are busy chatting in the back. There’s a bit more room in the bathroom in first than there would be in economy. You’ve got a chance, and you might as well take it. That’s what the lore of the Mile High Club is all about, after all. 


On Reddit, there are dozens of tales about the sexual encounters people have witnessed on airplanes or experienced for themselves. Some allege that they’ve joined the club in its classic form—some even claim they didn’t even go into the bathroom and instead fucked right there in their seat. Other stories seem like works of horny fiction, written by men who detail their partner’s wild orgasms or say they received congratulations from the airplane staff. These seem dubious. But the most believable of the bunch come from flight attendants, who report numerous instances of sneaky handjobs and even the occasional BJ. 

“Had a couple ‘sleeping’ near the back of the plane on an empty flight - her head was under a thin airplane blanket on his lap, obviously giving him a blowjob while he concentrated on squeezing his eyes shut and not making noise,” wrote one flight attendant. In a similar thread, another flight attendant said she “saw two gentlemen jerking each other off under one of blankets that we provide on the plane for everyone to use.” Both of these stories end in nearly the same way, with the passengers attempting to hand off the blankets to the attendants at the end of the flight or put them in the overhead bin. One passenger followed up an attendant’s stories by recalling a time their girlfriend gave them a handjob on a plane that resulted in him ejaculating right onto the blanket, which he was polite enough to hold onto after. 


Hoping to learn more, I took to Twitter to ask if anyone had a Mile High Club story to share. There, the response was much the same: Hand stuff reigns supreme.

“I don't know if it counts, but back in my mid-20s, my girlfriend & I were on a flight from Miami to Bulgaria, and after a few drinks we got a little frisky under the blanket,” one guy told me. “It wasn't penetrative sex, it was me giving her a lady handjob till she climaxed. We couldn't figure out a way to get me without it looking ridiculously obvious, so we left it at that.”

It often starts with a few drinks. “I travel a lot for work and my fiance comes with, but flying has always stressed me the fuck out,” a woman explained. “Any turbulence and I freak out. My solution to this is to just get super drunk on long flights, which also makes me really horny.” As a result, she says, she often ends up giving her fiance a handjob underneath a blanket or jacket. On rare occasions, she has even given him a blowjob in the bathroom. “Before that, though, everything in the bathroom is wiped down with disinfectant wipes. I'm always a freak about cleanliness no matter how drunk I am.” Despite the frequency of these encounters, she’s never been caught. “I’d probably die of embarrassment if I did,” she says. 

“We were probably going to die anyway. So we just went for it, in the seats, in full view of anyone.”

But drunkenness, risk, and general horniness aren’t the only reasons people want to get off on airplanes. For some, it’s the fear of death. One woman told me about being on a flight to South Korea with a girlfriend who had the “magic superpower” of being able to orgasm through nipple stimulation alone. “The plane looked and felt like it was falling apart,” she says. “We had a proper ‘omg this is how we die’ moment. It was also half empty, and we noticed there was no one else at all in our row or the row behind, meaning no one could see us unless they were coming down the aisle. What an opportunity, and we were probably going to die anyway. So we just went for it, in the seats, in full view of anyone who might have been passing. You can decide whether that counts as sex on a plane, but if I recall correctly, she came pretty hard.” 

Perhaps by the most stringent definitions, some nipple play doesn’t quite qualify for Mile High Club membership. But really, having a powerful orgasm with your partner ought to count more than clumsy, unsatisfying penetrative intercourse in the bathroom for the sake of saying you did it. Surely, both come with the potential for serious consequences—regardless of the precise type of sex being had, it’s possible to receive fines and citations for public indecency in the United States for getting frisky on a public aircraft. And certainly, there are ethical concerns to reckon with, too, like risking exposing yourself to a stranger. DO NOT JERK OFF IN YOUR SEAT ON A PLANE, and don’t let your girlfriend jerk you off in your seat on a plane if you have anyone sitting anywhere near you, either. 

But as the pop culture legacy of the Mile High Club has always implied, there remains something ambitious, even respectable, to attempting to get it on in a place that much of humanity could never imagine being. It’s a feat of science that we are able to get up in the sky at all. Surely, then, hand stuff ought to count.