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the magical world of airsickness bags

Welcome. This is what my wife calls "a bunch of stupid jokes and pictures of paper bags." She's right about the jokes. She's wrong about the bags: some of them are plastic.

What the critics say: "Utterly unnotable" (Wikipedia editor). "Ridiculous collections #4" (Buzzfeed). Other comments: "As complete wastes of time go, it's a very high quality complete waste of time... An entirely dispensable source of inane comments about a truly trivial subject... A monument to the planet's worst corporate design... An unwelcome reminder of some of the more unpleasant moments in our lives."

Donations (unused, please) of bags not represented in the bag gallery are welcomed -- please mail to this address, and I'll credit you on this site! I am happy to trade any extras that I have. Check out the links to other bag sites, find out how you can use your spare bags, and explore the fascinating world of bag manufacturers

Highlights: The design features page reveals the secrets of professional baggery, and the logos page analyses the enigma of airline corporate identities. Search for your favourite bag, browse the bag gallery by country and airline, and check out the biggest, best and worst bags!


Bag hazard?

Garuda: note the potentially lethal metal pin

Singapore Airlines: much safer

News from the world of bag research, from our correspondent Dr James Mangan:

I happened to be aboard a Garuda plane and decided to test out one of their air sickness bags--you know the ones. They are perforated and must be torn open, then after use you fold them along the dotted lines.

The tearing open took some technique--not the easiest thing to accomplish, especially when one's situation is urgent. Then, when folding up the bag on the dotted lines, I noticed something. A little metal pin or strap suddenly emerged from the point where I was creasing the bag. I looked at this and then tried to unfold the bag. It didn't easily unfold. Then I realized that the metal pin was inlaid in the bag across all the crease lines so that it would be bent upon folding up the bag, and would therefore have to be unbent (not easy to do) when re-opening the bag.

This is part of the design of the bag. If used properly (which is not an easy thing to do), the bag becomes difficult to re-open, thus (theoretically) assuring that the contents do not accidentally spill out. (It should be pointed out that the dotted lines are so close together that it is virtually impossible to successfully fold the bag closed as intended by the designers.)

All that is fine - except that the user must actually put his/her fingers on the pin (which, keep in mind, is enclosed within the layers of paper making up the bag) when folding along the dotted lines--otherwise this pin is too stiff to be folded by paper pressure alone, and will tear through and emerge from the bag, causing a sharp protrusion which could wound the user, potentially resulting in something we might term AIR SICKNESS BAG HAZARD.

More alarming still, if an airline employee or employees decided to tear open and fold properly along the dotted lines all the air sickness bags aboard an aircraft prior to boarding, it would be virtually impossible for the passengers to open their bags in a timely manner.

If this act were coupled with a plot to lace airline food with syrup of ipecac or some other vomit inducer, we have the prospect of virtually all passengers reaching for their bags simultaneously, only to throw up all over their laps and the aircraft upholstery because they were unable to open their tampered bags in time - with many passengers possibly being wounded in the process.

This presents us with the much more serious prospect of AIR SICKNESS BAG SABOTAGE.

May I suggest posting some sort of warning about these alarming prospects on your web site? In our post 9/11 world, there is no telling what can occur.

Best regards, James

And from a later email...

I have carried out experiments with Singapore Airlines air sickness bags, which are of a similar design, but with more generous fold lines and with a piece of tape with two much more flexible wires designed to keep the bag closed after usage.

So while the Singapore bags are still susceptible to AIR SICKNESS BAG SABOTAGE, they do not represent an AIR SICKNESS BAG HAZARD as does the Garuda bag.

Disclaimer: This website does not wish to imply any intention, malevolent or otherwise, on the part of Garuda International Airways or its employees, to sabotage the bags or food supplied to passengers in the manner described above.

Friday, November 16, 2001 

Bag merger

In a massive merger, the Swedish firm Duni ("We enhance any eating or drinking occasion") has taken over bag giant DeSter.ACS.

"Duni’s Travel Division was created at the beginning of 2000 through the integration of the three best known names in its market: De Ster, Günter ACS and Duni Inflight," says the glitzy Duni website.

"Backed by 40 years’ experience, DeSter.ACS serves more than 350 airline companies worldwide, as well as other Travel organisations and suppliers like railway companies, ferries, food processors and caterers."

I searched the Duni corporate site for the words "airsickness", "barfbag", "motion discomfort" and "puke". In vain. Looks like bags are not a leading product for the airline catering market. However, it does seem that Duni is keeping the De Ster brandname and logo so beloved by bag patrons worldwide.

See the bagmakers page for more on the interface between capitalism and bagdom. (Thanks to Rune Tapper for this news)

Saturday, November 10, 2001 

But is it art?

Emailreceived on 5 Nov 2001:

I am a fourth year Fine Art student at Duncan of Jordanstone Art College, Dundee.

I am currently producing work for my degree show in June based around the idea of 'the collection'. I am interested in how people display and present ornaments and objects in their homes and how this comments on their identity, their sex, class and age.

I am currently researching into a new project which looks at collectors and their collections. I am interested in the most bizarre collections and clubs that I have found and am contacting collectors in the hope that someone will be interested in helping me. I wish to photograph and document collectors and their collections...

If you can help me in any way whether that is personally or through contacts you know who may be interested I will be very grateful. There may be a sickbag or two in it and of course your collections will become a work of art... Louise Briggs

Barfbag collecting - bizarre? Pah!

Monday, November 05, 2001 


What do Latvia, Liberia and Lesotho have in common? Yes, they all start with an L. What else? They're all missing from my barfbag collection.

What's the biggest country not represented? Chad. In terms of population? Burkina Faso. Other prominent absentees (coloured red in the map): Georgia and Rwanda. 

Major underrepresented portions of the globe are a swathe of Africa and chunks of Central Asia and Central America.

Donations from these areas especially welcome!

Centres of megabagdiversity are the USA (though many US bags are distressingly plain), China, the UK, Canada, Germany, Brazil and Indonesia. 

Click here for details.

For new baggists only


New to the world of bag collecting? Want to get a head start on your collection? Then send me an email, and I'll send you a randomly selected free starter pack from my surplus bag stock. There won't be anything rare, and you may end up with some duplicates, but at least you'll be able to show your friends a few more of these lovely cultural artefacts. Make sure you include your mailing address in your email. Offer good as long as stocks last.

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