Causing a ruckus on commercial flights is a serious offense, punishable by up to $25,000 and possible jail time. But, while most would view these penalties as a deterrent, some find it alluring.
Phil Kessler owns and operates the Mile High Club, a website that allows airline passengers to brag about their sexual encounters on commercial flights. Kessler says his group has millions of members around the world and maintains that the Mile High Club does not create a nuisance for the flying public.
Kessler said the possibility of being arrested "kind of adds to the experience," but he emphasized club members should be considerate of other airline passengers.
"Hopefully they won’t take up too much time if they use the lavatories so that it doesn’t create a line," he said.
Many in the airline industry have a different point of view. A recent NBC Bay Area investigation found a spike in complaints from flight crews about unruly passengers who make their jobs more difficult. Incidents ranged from assaulting flight attendants, to sex in lavatories.
Highlights from NBC Bay Area's interview with MileHighClub.com's Phil Kessler:
KESSLER: There’s millions of members. Over the course of time and multiple countries. We hear stories from people all over the world.
What is the goal of the Mile High Club?
KESSLER: The goal of Mile High Club is to provide an opportunity for bragging rights for people who claim to be members.
How did you become the owner?
KESSLER: A friend of mine was a colonel in the Air Force. He retired and he owned the trademark and copyright for the Mile High Club. He was the first to do that back in 1984. In '96 he decided to retire and asked if I might be interested in taking over the operation of the mile high club. And I purchased it from him and set up the website and the rest is history.
Potential consequences for joining the mile high club?
KESSLER: Depending on how annoying they may be, they could run into a problem with the Air Marshal. It’s not legal. If they’re disruptive and they’re causing problems for other passengers, they could - I think they could be arrested. I think that probably adds to the mystique because of the potential for being arrested. It kind of adds to the experience I think.
Do members pose a security risk?
KESSLER: When you’re flying and you’ve got several hours and you’ve had a few drinks and you’re bored you know then you get creative. And I think the excitement of having the opportunity to match up with your partner is compelling, but I don’t think it poses any security threat.
Do members create a public nuisance?
KESSLER: The people that are interested in qualifying need to be considerate of other passengers. And do their qualification in the privacy of some of the areas of the airplane rather than in the seats so they’re not bothering other people. And hopefully they wont take up too much time if they use the lavatories so that it doesn’t create a line.
Have the airlines made changes for Mile High Club Members?
KESSLER: I think the airline has taken the step to sanitize the blankets for example, and they probably do that with the pillows as well. Other accommodations, I don’t think, except for virgin that provides sleeping quarters and privacy rooms I don’t think other airlines are inclined to do that.
Why do people join?
KESSLER: The mystique of qualifying on an airline as a member of the Mile High Club is because its frowned upon and it’s kind of an exciting experience so if the airline was to sanction it. It would probably reduce the compulsion.