February 21, 2007
The Mile High Club technically does not have card-carrying members nor a central clubhouse, although it does have a commemorative key chain you can purchase for $6.95. Like a secret society, only those who are in it know. Membership can come at a price, however, as one Qantas flight attendant recently found out. Her airline is considering firing her for allegedly having sex with Ralph Fiennes in the lavatory.
She claims she had simply developed a friendly rapport with the actor, and he strangely followed her into the lavatory. After she politely fended off his advances, she says he left, then she left. Of course he left smiling. The ringer of the story is that Fiennes was on his way to India to be an ambassador for Unicef promoting awareness of HIV and safe sex.
Such stories of altitude allure have been around for a long time — since 1916 to be exact. The first member of the Mile High Club, although technically he was flying well below the requisite 5,280 feet, was Lawrence Sperry, an innovative and daring pilot, catapulted to fame for his invention of the autopilot which of course was the crucial element to his seduction of a married socialite in his Curtiss flying boat over Babylon, New York.
Her name was Mrs. Polk. As a cautionary tale that taking your hands off the wheel is never a good idea, the plane crashed into the bay although luckily neither one was killed. In an effort to explain their nudity, Sperry told the duck hunters who found them that the crash had "divested them" of their clothes. Not to be deterred by the incident, Mrs. Polk kept flying and even earned her own pilot's license while Sperry went on to invent retractable landing gear and perfect the aerial torpedo. I'll bet he did.
While we know that tampering with lavatory smoke detectors is a federal offense and seat belts must be fastened at all times, there is little official written information about what else is permitted or not. If Ralph was engaging in a little carnal knowledge with his wife, would that be an actionable offense? Luckily most of the plane traveling population would be so revolted by the smell, germs, and incredibly unflattering light that they would have no desire to go there. And of course there is the issue of size — namely too small.
For more noble reasons such as wheel chair accessibility, sites such as seatguru.com can actually give you the plane layout and a sense of whether there is a larger lavatory on board — and if it is you can pretty much bet it's up in First Class. Singapore Airlines won accolades for the biggest bathrooms measuring in at a whopping 56 x 41. And one traveler claimed that on a Danish airline the lavatory was actually doublewide with windows and wooden surfaces. Now maybe that holds mile high possibilities. Those pretty Scandinavian flight attendants must be in real trouble.
With increased security concerns, what goes on in the lavatory is of much more interest to everyone else on board these days — even if you're no Ralph Fiennes. So the Mile High Club may have to become even more exclusive and limit membership to those flying on private jets. But you can still buy the key chain.
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