Cruising altitude cuddling has long, colourful history

It was a case that had many people chuckling, at least for a day.

The news broke late on a Sunday afternoon, normally a quiet news day. Fighter jets had been dispatched to follow Frontier Airlines Flight 623, en route from Denver to Detroit, following reports that a couple of passengers were acting suspiciously aboard the Airbus A318 jetliner.

After landing safely in Detroit, a SWAT team boarded the aircraft and ordered passengers to put their hands on the seat in front. Passengers then watched as three people were handcuffed and hauled off for questioning.

Then came reports that the “suspicious activity” on Flight 623 wasn’t terrorism at all, but rather a couple “making out” in the lavatory.

Then came the truth. It had all been a big, stupid mix-up. One passenger was sick and had to make frequent trips to the restroom — and had gone in there alone.

On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the whole matter had been blown ridiculously out of proportion.

But even if this had been a case of a couple making love on board a commercial jetliner, it wouldn’t have been the first time.

“Prior to arrival Captain Thompson radioed operations advising that he wanted a British Airways senior official to meet his aircraft on arrival at Honolulu. He stated he had two passengers on board the aircraft who were creating problems,” read an undated telex sent back to British Airways headquarters in London sometime during the ’70s.

“We were advised that a man in seat 25A and a married woman seated 19A got together during flight and were using profane language and molesting one another,” the telex continued.

“Per Captain Thompson and the chief steward both passengers had sexual intercourse right in the plain sight of all other passengers. Captain Thompson stated once this was completed they both settled down and went to sleep and were of no bother from that point on. As a result Captain Thompson did not feel they should be offloaded.”*

While this couple faced no serious consequences from the airline for their conduct, others didn’t find airline employees to be as forgiving as Captain Thompson.

One of the most bizarre cases took place in March 1988, when four passengers were arrested on arrival in Chicago after a “fracas” aboard American Airlines Flight 37 from Zurich, Switzerland.

The trouble started when a woman traveling with her 13-year-old daughter complained to the flight attendant about the behaviour of the California-bound married couple across the aisle.

“It came to the attention of a mother who determined that kind of recreational pursuit was not the kind she wanted her daughter to see,” American spokesman Ed Martelle said in an interview.

Two other male passengers, however, had no objections to this unexpected form of in-flight entertainment. In fact, when a flight attendant tried to intervene, the two male passengers — described later by police as voyeurs — “began pelting her with food and drink.”

The couple were arrested for public indecency and possession of a controlled substance, while the two onlookers were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Ten years later, a couple found themselves in trouble aboard a South African Airways flight after they “disrobed from the waist down and got busy in full view of other passengers“.

The crew tried without luck to stop the couple, who only put their clothes back on after the Captain paid them a personal visit to deliver a message: “This is not a shag house!”

In July 1984, it was an off-duty Air New Zealand flight attendant who found herself in trouble after consuming both sleeping tablets and champagne while deadheading from Auckland to Honolulu.

The unnamed flight attendant lost her job after she had sex with a passenger in a lavatory, sat on a sleeping First Class passenger’s face, kneed the chief purser in the groin and tried to grab his private parts, and finally tried to take off her clothing.

She later said that she could not recall any of those events.

The passengers, however, likely found their flight to Honolulu to be very memorable indeed.

* – Brian Moynahan, Airport International (London: Pan Books, 1978), pp. 118-119.


About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

One Response to Cruising altitude cuddling has long, colourful history

  1. “We loved with a love that was more than love.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

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