Wherever I fly on Valentine's Day, I usually encounter some amorous couple trying to join the Mile-High Club. Yes, despite all the extra security and overcrowding we see on airplanes these days, the infamous club is still taking on new members.
A few years ago, I flew with a senior flight attendant who told me that she joined the Mile-High Club 35 years ago with a total stranger on Valentine's Day — and has been married to him ever since. She says it's not a total coincidence that her son is 35 years old and named John.
The Mile-High Club, for those of you who aren't frequent fliers, is an exclusive society of those who have consummated their relationship at cruising altitude. I remember the first time I witnessed an induction. I was in my second year as a flight attendant and was confident enough to play the good sport with the passengers. When I saw a passenger slyly sneaking into an already-occupied lavatory, I rushed up to first class, popped open a bottle of champagne, grabbed some flowers, made a makeshift membership card, and rushed back to the scene. There I stood with a wide, goofy smile on my face, ready to embarrass the new inductees.
A few minutes passed and out came the two passengers — both male. I was young, naive and truly not expecting that to happen. In shock, I dropped the bottle and caught a champagne shower.
On another occasion, an attractive lady told me that if I upgraded her to first class, she would guarantee my membership in the club immediately. Luckily, first class was full, so I had an excuse to beg off. Is first class really worth it? I guess she thought so.
Once there was a young woman who decided to relieve her fear of flying by drinking several cocktails. Unaccustomed to alcohol, her inhibitions vanished, and she was caught in the lavatory twice with two different men. I'm sure a sleeping pill would have been more effective — and less embarrassing.
One Valentine's Day, the lavatory call light began blinking, and soon the bell began sounding off rhythmically. The crew members all looked at each other and wondered if it could be ... naaah. We investigated anyway. Sure enough, moans were coming from the left-hand lavatory.
"Are you OK?" we asked in a low voice, but no response came from the lavatory.
The bell kept ringing, now at a faster pace. We opened the door, as we are required to do, and found two new members of the Mile-High Club, stark naked, unaware that they were bumping against the call button. The lady spotted us first and began to scream, causing the man to whisper, "Sshhhh! Somebody will hear us."
People claim the amatory sensation is intensified by the cabin pressure and the altitude. More likely it's the excitement of doing it in a public place and maybe getting caught.
No, the restroom isn't the only place it's done. There's under a blanket on a night flight, heads bobbing, no hands in sight. Also the lower kitchen galley, the bunkroom and now, on the new Airbus A380, in the double beds and private cabins in first class (which makes me wonder how the marketers will promote that product).
I've even heard of it happening in the cockpit. A while back there were rumors that two male pilots and a female flight attendant were suspended for an in-flight threesome up front. Now the logistics of that are puzzling, especially since the plane was a smaller regional aircraft. The culprits were caught when a pass-riding flight attendant, who happened to be best friends with the wife of one of the pilots, listened in and reported them. Takes the term "autopilot" to a whole new level, doesn't it?
I often get asked if I am a member of the club. Well, there was this one time ... but no, some things should stay between a husband and wife.
My 90-year-old grandmother once asked me about the Mile-High Club. She had heard the term and thought it was some sort of frequent-flier club, good toward mileage points. I explained as delicately as possible.
"Sex in an airplane bathroom!" she exclaimed. "Why that's impossible. I've been in one, and there isn't enough room to brush your hair, much less lie down."
So if you are flying this Valentine's Day and notice any missing couples, longer-than-usual lavatory lines, or unusual sounds, think of me. Then again, depending on what you are doing, don't think of me.
Happy Valentine's Day!
James Wysong is a veteran flight attendant who has worked with two major international carriers. James recently released a new book, For more information about James, visit or send him an .