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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!


Bags on demand

Bored with the designs that the airlines put out?

Then print your own bags.

British baggist Chris Hays has started making bag design more democratic by starting his own production line: he feeds bags through his laser printer. I'm honoured that he sent me his very first attempt (left).

The potential for this is huge.

Imagine the staff at the check-in desk handing you a personalized bag along with your boarding pass.

Or you could print out your own bag design at the automated check-in terminal at the airport.

Baggists could print their own bags and use them as currency in bagtrades, or to make a grab for a higher spot in the baggist ranking.

Contact Chris if you want your very own bag!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 

Patented bags

If you are feeling bored at work, there are few more educational places to go in cyberspace than the United States Patent Office.

Numerous patents are related to barfbags. For example, you might want to check patent no. 5647670, for a "body fluid containment bag". The chief feature of this is a neck strap which allows you to spew while keeping your hands free. Ideal for use while driving, skiing or operating heavy machinery. Certainly an item to pack in your carry-on baggage next time you check in.

You'll need at least three hands to use a disposable vomiting bag based on patent no. 3920179. One to hold the bag, and another two to pull the drawstrings that seal the bag and allow safe disposal of the contents.

If you tend to vomit in the same place (your office cubicle, perhaps), consider installing a a wall mounted waste receptacle based on patent no. 5822802. This urinal-like device includes an opening large enough for your face, handles to grab to support yourself while hurling, and a water dispenser to flush away the emesis.

I'm still trying to locate the original patent for our much-loved airsickness bag. Can anyone help?

Monday, February 20, 2006 

Storm in a bag

Bowing to popular request, I've put together a list of publicly available information on barfbag collections.

There is dispute over who occupies the two top spots. Claims, counterclaims and accusations have been made, sometimes descending into the realm of farce. I'm reminded of a remark often attributed to Henry Kissinger: "Academic politics are so bitter because the stakes are so small".

Please note that is based on the premise that bag-collecting is inherently silly. Those who lack sufficient humour to appreciate this should perhaps seek a different avocation - or not visit this website.

Suffice it to say that German collector Oliver Conradi and Dutch baggist Niek Vermeulen both have lots of bags.

Taking bronze is Alaska-based baggist Bruce Kelly, with 3643 bags (including several hundred that Niek would reject).

In fourth place is Homer Goetz, with 2349 bags, and coming in fifth is mine - what my wife persists in calling "eine mickrige Kleinsammlung" (a miserable little collection) at 2298 bags. This total includes the world's largest publicly acknowledged collections of both dogshit and sanitary bags.

If these ancillary items are excluded, it's quite possible that I would drop several places, below Gerhard Lang's 2241 bags, David Bradford's 2143, and Walter Brinker's 1903.

Germany is clearly the capital of the bagworld, with 5 collectors in the top 10. The USA comes second, with 2, and the Netherlands, Denmark and New Zealand taking the remaining places.

Sunday, February 19, 2006 

Design for Chunks goes gusset wedge

Prolific issuer Virgin Atlantic has moved the goalposts for baggists, according to bagwatcher Chris Hays.

The much-loved Design for Chunks series of 20 bags has now appeared in a different format: without text on the reverse, and with a pointy bottom (I think the official term for this type is a "gusset wedge bag").

If Virgin Atlantic is recycling designs in this way, can they still be called "Limited Edition"?

I haven't seen one of these bags myself. Can anyone enlighten me?

Sunday, February 19, 2006 

The bag of the comic

Here's the baggery equivalent of the soundtrack of the movie of the novel... this Evil Ernie bag advertises a comic published by Chaos about scantily clad female vampires and super-antihero weirdoes. "Evil Ernie", as far as I can judge, is one of these weirdoes; the bag was intended to go out with the Commemorative #1 Revenge issue.

I hope that makes more sense to you than it does to me.

Anyway, the bag has been signed by no less than Chaos's creative genius, Brian Pulido. It even comes with a certificate of authenticity to prove it.

Bruce Kelly, proud owner of the bag (and the certificate), seems to think that that means it qualifies as a Celebrity bag. Who am I to disagree with the soundness of his judgement?

I am considering signing all bags in my collection, then issuing certificates of authenticity to those who wish to view them.

For a price, of course.

Sunday, February 19, 2006 

Motion sickness while in motion

You've boarded the plane and have settled into your seat. You pull the bag out of the seat pocket in front of you, and want to know whether it's worth collecting.

After all, it would be inconsiderate to other passengers to steal bags that you don't need.

British baggist Chris Hays has come up with a way to check bag details - along with the latest bagnews - while on the move: he uses his Portable PlayStation to log into

Just remember to turn your PlayStation off before takeoff: it may interfere with the aircraft navigation system, causing the plane to run into more turbulence than expected, increasing the use of bags aboard and reducing their value as collectibles.

Sunday, February 19, 2006 

More bagraffiti

Avid readers of this blog will recall our report on London graffiti artist Remi/Rough's exhibit of bags in a Clerkenwell art gallery last year.

Remi has kindly supplied me with one of the fine posters used to advertise this event.

The poster (left) features 75 bags decorated with a range of his trademark "ROUGH" lettering, chunky arrows, cartoon figures, tortured stonework, falling bombs, and ink splatters.

The bags were selling at £125 each at the exhibit, but Remi says he still has some left. He also has some posters, which cost £10 each.

Like his style? Contact him through his website,, and mention this site!

Friday, February 17, 2006 

Bag of tricks

Why should Olympic gold-winning snowboarder Hannah Teter want her name on a barfbag?

Her preferred form of transport involves very short, turbulent flights. No time to use the bag while in the air. Maybe she needs it after a particularly bumpy landing.

The answer: Mountain Dew, an American fizzy drink brand owned by PepsiCo, is one of her sponsors. It seems that these bags were distributed at the X Games, a sporting fest organized by cable TV channel ESPN. The whiz marketing idea is that this "sick bag of tricks" will persuade fans to pour yet more carbonated sugary water down their throats.

Shaun White is a champion snowboarder who resisted the temptation to have his name on a sickbag - "a really bad promo idea".

Any more celebrity bags out there?

Thanks to Steve Silberberg for this alert and for the bagscan.

Thursday, February 16, 2006 

Competition for the title

Baggery reaches high into the top corridors of power: Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist is a high-profile collector who is not ashamed of his habit.

In fact, his Democratic opponents have taken to calling him "barf bag Norquist".

According to the Washington Post, Mr Norquist "is often described as an eccentric. For a bedside table, Norquist uses a giant green canister for Kraft parmesan cheese. He displays what he hopes will be the world's largest collection of airsickness bags. At staff meetings, employees say, he holds court while variously sitting on a giant red plastic ball, eating tuna from a can, rubbing his feet against a massager and sniffing hand lotion as he kneads it into his fingers. He excuses himself to go to 'the ladies room.'"

The world's largest collection? That will put fear into the eyes of Niek Vermeulen (the current title holder), as well as a host of wannabes.

It's nice to know that not all baggists are as eccentric as Mr Norquist (at least, I generally put tuna on a plate before I consume it).

And for those baggists who are genuinely eccentric - well, you're in good company. You too can reach the pinnacle of your profession by collecting bags and annoying people who disagree with you.

Massachusetts-based baggist and Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum curator Steve Silberberg has tried to contact Mr Norquist several times about his habit, but so far has not received a reply.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 

Celebrity baggist

This is Ty Pennington, a do-it-yourself specialist who stars in Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and American TV show on home improvement.

According to this article in Good Housekeeping, Ty also collects airsickness bags.

I've asked him if he'd like to join the barfbags egroup and whether he's interested in trading bags.

Thanks to Bruce Kelly for this item.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 

Niek reveals bagtips

If you're in the Netherlands (as I was yesterday), then it's worth paying a visit to the Openluchtmuseum (Open Air Museum) in Arnhem. In building called the Spaarstation Dingeliefde is an exhibit devoted to collectors, including our very own Niek Vermeulen and his bag collection.

Visitors are greeted at the door by a full-length, life-sized photo of Niek holding a trio of bags, like those cutouts you find at the entrance of VIP lounges of Asian airlines.

Rush past the collections of cut glass, moneyboxes, crucifixes, and memorabilia from the Dutch royal family, though my wife did linger over the photos of a man who had collected tattoos - as she discovered - on all parts of his body.

At the end of the exhibit comes a room shaped like an aircraft cabin, with several rows of seats, and a forest of bags hanging from the ceiling. While you wait in vain for the cabin service, you can watch a five-minute video of Niek wandering around Schiphol Airport in search of bags, plus a glimpse of his secret "bag bunker" somewhere in the Dutch-Belgian borderlands.

Among the bag-collecting secrets he divulges: go to the gate where a plane is parked, wait for the passengers to disembark, and ask the ground staff if they could get some bags for you. It helps if you have a camera crew with you - it makes it more likely that the staff will comply.

There are no bags in the seat pockets, and the bags hanging from the ceiling are pretty common. I did spot one rather pretty Malaysian Airlines bag that would fill a gap in my collection, but it was too high to reach. I must bring a stepladder with me on my next visit.

Click here for more details on the museum.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 

New look for Bagland ('s Bagsite of the Month in January 2005), has a new look.

Proprietor Alan Howlett's tidy redesign shows a single-engined plane flying through a thunderstorm. Some interesting swaps, too.

Monday, February 06, 2006 


It's a perennial challenge for collectors confronted with the rising cost of bag storage: what to do with all those boring, mostly white, unswappable bags from common airlines?

Simple: paint a picture on them.

London graffiti artist Remi/Rough did just that: he put together an exhibition of 40-50 illustrated bags in Clerkenwell, east London, in August-September 2005.

The bags include such favourites as an Iberia Regional with a flying Red Bull, bmi with Remi's trademark "ROUGH" block lettering, and a Virgin Atlantic showing a pen-and-ink portrait of BBC disc jockey John Peel, drawn on the day he died.

Click here to see more of the exhibits.

Thanks to Remi/Rough and James Hamilton for the info and images.

Sunday, February 05, 2006 

Bring your own bag aboard

"Paper vomit bags, like the ones found on airplanes, tend to be small and not very sturdy", according to Red E Bag, a firm that sells a stylish alternative to the standard barfbag.

"This sporty compact bag comes with extra-large opaque leak-proof plastic liner bags that attach to a durable washable nylon bag, which fits into coat pockets, but quickly unsnaps and unfolds to reveal a large liner bag ready to catch over a ½ gallon of fluid."

Half a gallon? That's as much as a standard ELAG bag filled to the brim. And Jodi Carr, inventor of the Red E Bag, assures me that her bag can hold that much and still be closed safely.

The Red E Bag comes in black or shocking pink, complete with 5 disposable plastic liners (order new liners from Red E Bag).

There's even an outside zippered pocket to hold tissues, car keys and credit cards. Now that's a feature to add to standard barfbags.

If airlines continue to pare back the number of bags they place in seat pockets, passengers may be forced to bring their own Red E Bags.

The only thing missing from a baggist's point of view? An airline logo. Hmm: I wonder if airlines could be persuaded to give out Red E Bags in First Class?

Visit for more, including a series of photos showing the charming model on the left using the product.

Saturday, February 04, 2006 

Bagsite of the Month

Bagsite of February 2006 is Sawada Ken's artfully constructed Indojin. At least, that's what I think it's called: the site is almost all in Japanese.

If you prefer to see Japanese characters on your screen rather than gobbledegook, you may have to adjust the character encoding in your browser (in Firefox, click on View > Character encoding, and choose Japanese; in Internet Explorer, click View > Encoding > More, and select Japanese).

Once you've got it right, you should see something like the thumbnail on the left. Click on the link (glowing red in the top thumbnail) to get to the bag gallery (second thumbnail). The links to the bags are in the frame on the left.

Ken's collection focuses mainly on East Asia, and is one of the few to lump Africa and Europe into a single category.

Thanks to Oliver Conradi for alerting me to this site.

Saturday, February 04, 2006 


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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