Is sex on an airplane legal? In-flight rules revealed!

sex on an airplaneGot a secret fantasy to join the Mile High Club?  We hear that plane vibrations and lower oxygen levels can heighten arousal and deliver more intense orgasms. But have you considered the cost of getting caught in the act? Study up!

Whether or not you are arrested for having sex on a plane largely depends on the aircraft that you’re flying with – and what nation it’s registered to. The issue was spotlighted this week when a randy couple were caught having sex on board a Virgin Atlantic flight to Cancun. (To make matters worse, the moment they were caught was in turn caught on video by other passengers.) On landing, the woman was met by Mexican police and taken into custody for  “disruptive” behavior. No word on what happened to her male “partner in crime.”

Who has owned up to tuning into more than an in-flight movie for airborne entertainment?

In 2007, Virgin founder Richard Branson admitted he became a member of the Mile High Club at age 19 en route from London to Los Angeles. A Qantas stewardess claimed she canoodled with British actor Ralph Fiennes in an aircraft toilet headed to India, but the actor refused to comment. Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner has also admitted to getting frisky on a flight, with then-husband Bruce Jenner.

Sex on a plane could earn you high-fives and smiles from a lenient flight crew, or land you in uncomfortably hot water. It all depends on a number of variable factors:

  • The laws of the country to which the aircraft is registered.
  • The laws of the country from which the aircraft is departing.
  • The laws of any country whose airspace the aircraft passes through.
  • The laws of the country where the aircraft is landing.

A spokesperson from the United Kingdom (UK) Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told Sun Online Travel, “On board the aircraft, it is the law of the country where the aircraft is registered that applies. People who want to get it on aboard a plane might want to exercise caution – or end up with a fine.”

In the UK, people caught having sex in public could be arrested for the criminal offence of Outraging Public Decency – which could also be applied in an aircraft. It doesn’t matter if your partner is a loving spouse you’ve had for 50 years or if it’s someone you met on the flight that day sitting next to you or from one of the known or best hookup sites. A CAA spokesperson said, “It would be a matter for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to decide if a prosecution should be brought.” This is because there are no specific aviation laws covering this – the same laws that apply domestically within the UK would also apply on board a UK registered aircraft.

In other words, it’s where the aircraft is registered, not the nation from which the airline hails. In this case, in Great Britain, under section 71 of the Sexual Offences Act 2004, it is illegal to have sex in a toilet which the public has access to. The same rule applies on a UK registered plane, and offenders risk a six-month prison sentence or a £1,000 fine.

economy class travel

Does this put you in the mood?

On Western airlines, over Europe or North America, if the encounter was discreet and only the stewardess noticed, then you’ll likely just be told to stop. At the other end of the scale, you can be detained and charged for causing a disturbance on a plane. If the captain is alerted, you may find authorities waiting for you at your destination. You could face indecent exposure charges, or potentially interfering with the flight crew, which has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 

You could suffer far worse consequences if you dallied on a plane registered to a country with stricter rules regarding public displays of affection, and clear rules regarding sex, such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Indonesia. In Saudi Arabia, simply “consorting” with a member of the opposite sex can lead to flogging, lashing, or imprisonment.

In Dubai, the home of Emirates airline, and in Abu Dhabi, home to Etihad airline, kissing in public – even between married couples – is taboo, and punishable by an unpredictable UAE judicial system. Flights on airlines in predominately Islamic countries may file criminal charges based on the nature of the sexual contact. One American man was sent to jail in Dubai for having cannabis in his blood. He used medical marijuana before his flight and was arrested later in Dubai for having traces of it in his body.

So let the flyer beware. Know the country where the aircraft you choose is registered, because the Kyoto Protocol says that registration country’s laws are valid in an airplane. Look to the flag painted on the aircraft’s tail, or better yet, call the airline to verify. Be wary about any kind of monkey business on-flight, and with Covid, travel safe. And carbon offset!

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