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Editor’s note about our Insider Series: TPG Contributor Carrie A. Trey shares some of her most interesting stories and perspectives in this Insider Series article. Please remember that Ms. Trey’s opinions and statements here are her’s and her’s only, and they do not reflect the opinions of the TPG Team. Disclaimer out of the way… please enjoy this installment from the one and only Carrie A. Trey!
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, TPG’s flight attendant insider Carrie A. Trey ponders whether one should pursue passion at 35,000 feet — or keep one’s tray table in the locked position… so to speak.
Inevitably, when I tell someone that I’m a flight attendant, I’m asked: “Is it actually legal to join the Mile-High Club?”
The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no, as it depends on which section of the plane you’re sitting in, with whom you join the club and how you opt to join it. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, I’m sure many of you are going to be traveling with a special someone (or in search of one), so in the interest of keeping your love life fresh — and both of you out of jail — let’s examine the dos and don’ts of Mile-High membership.
The most obvious — and legal — place to join the Mile-High Club is an airplane lavatory. I’ve flown for four airlines in three countries and have never come across any rule that says two people are forbidden to use the onboard bathroom at the same time. The question remains, though: Why would you want to? You’re essentially choosing to copulate in an airborne port-o-potty. Sure, a plane’s lavatory may look clean, but I guarantee you that below the surface it’s pretty darn dirty.
If you can get past this little detail and are still hell-bent on doing it in the loo, make sure you’re both fairly flexible so that neither of you slip a disk trying to contort yourselves into human pretzels. (Airplane bathrooms are many things, but they aren’t large.) And be aware that most of your fellow passengers will know what you’re up to; some may give you the stink-eye, while others might offer you a big high-five.
As technology improves, in-seat entertainment has taken on a whole new meaning. Some aircraft now enable you to connect your digital tablet or smartphone to your seat port and watch your own downloaded content on your seat-back screen. Should your downloaded content be pornographic in nature, then it’s decidedly not legal. Displaying porn on the airplane (and yes, I’ve seen it happen) exposes everyone around you to possible discomfort and even offense.
Furthermore, if your enjoyment of this forbidden content inspires you to indulge in some, um, self-service, know that this, too, is illegal. Airplanes are public spaces, and exposing yourself on a plane will result in the same legal trouble that it would earn you on the ground. Also, I can’t remember the last time I worked a flight that didn’t have a child on it somewhere. Exposing yourself is bad enough, but exposing yourself to a minor? You’ll undoubtedly wind up in jail, will probably be fined, and are likely to find yourself on a few no-fly lists.
The same rule applies for those of you traveling with a companion. Don’t fool around while in or at your seats — it’s considered indecent exposure. People do see you, despite the fact that you think they don’t, and getting caught may land you in some hot water with the authorities upon landing. (If you’re not seen or caught, you’re probably not doing it right — but that’s another story.)
The last place to join would be the crew rest bunks. Clean, quiet and completely secluded from the cabin, these bunks have real beds with pillows and blankets — but the FAA, JAA, CASA, etc., insist that they should only be occupied by working crew members who’ve been trained to both evacuate the crew rest area and use the emergency equipment therein. So you can flirt your hardest with your crew member of choice and see where it gets you, but just keep in mind that your little tryst may very well land you in jail and your crew member du jour in the unemployment line.
When it comes to crew rest-bunk nookie, crew members may have an easier time joining the Mile-High Club with other crew members — or at least it seems that they used to. For instance, back in 1985, my father was traveling on an Alitalia 747 from Rome to Delhi, and after meal service, was invited by the Captain to visit the cockpit. On the 747, the cockpit-crew bunks are located just behind the flight deck; my dad, seeing that the bunk door was cracked, noticed two pairs of feet sticking out from the blanket on the bottom bunk. When he asked his host what was, well, afoot, the Captain slyly responded, “Oh, that’s Luigi, one of our First Officers — and as you can see, he’s also in charge of crew morale.” A happy crew makes for happy passengers, I suppose.
Cockpits themselves have also seen their fair share of action. As just one example, a colleague of mine flew for Air Florida back in the day, and during a particularly empty flight from Miami to London aboard one of the airline’s DC10s, she and two other stewardesses — respectively dating the Captain, First Officer and Flight Engineer — each took turns joining the Mile-High Club in the cockpit with their romantic partner. As I always say: what happens behind the cockpit door stays behind the cockpit door.
These days, with the advent of in-flight entertainment, it’s possible that the Mile-High Club membership has lost some of its allure. However, some airlines are actually making it easier to find love in the air. KLM now allows you to link your Facebook profile to your reservation, so that you can see if any of your fellow passengers have also opted to use this service, try to choose a compatible seat-mate. On their newer aircraft, Singapore Airlines has an in-seat messaging service that allows you to discreetly ask that cutie in 17B if they’ll meet you on the ground for a drink… or in the loo for a quickie. But do exercise caution and some good judgment, as unwanted messages will likely be reported to the cabin crew and you’ll have landed yourself in trouble before you’ve even managed to expose yourself.
I wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day, and urge you to do your best to not get fined, arrested or black-listed as you try to gain entry to the Mile-High Club.