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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!


Baggist in whodunnit

The latest genre to feature barfbags is the good old detective novel.

Voices, a murder mystery by Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason, stars a well-known barfbag collector in a cameo role.

Murderer, victim, witness, or distraction from the plot? Read the book to find out.

Thanks to Uli Mathias for this tip.

Monday, August 21, 2006 

Bag videos online

British baggist Chris Hays has added a range of bag videos to his website.

This is the place to go if you want to see the famous Mr Bean barfbag episode (left).

There's also a newsclip about Virgin Atlantic's Design for Chunks bag designs, Reiner Schulz's prize-winning Bagman - Savior of the Universe movie, and even a bagporn flick.

Saturday, August 19, 2006 

Bag in bomb scare

The bomb threat was presumably written on a bag similar to this

A barfbag was responsible for a bomb scare aboard a British plane on 18 August 2006.

The 767 operated by charter carrier Excel was en route from London Gatwick to Hurghada in Egypt, when a note was found saying "there's a bomb on this aircraft".

"The note was written on the back of a sick bag", said Excel.

The plane was diverted into the Italian airport of Brindisi, escorted by an Italian fighter jet. No bomb was found on board, and the plane resumed its flight to Egypt, arriving in Hurghada 6 hours late.

This is not the first time a barfbag has been involved in a suspected terrorist threat.

In August 2004, a United Airlines flight to Los Angeles turned back to Sydney after a bag with the letters "B O B" written on it was found on board. Crew members suspected the letters meant "bomb on board". No explosive devices were found.

And in the 1990s, a TWA plane made an emergency landing after suspicious parcels were found aboard. The packages were removed and blown up. They turned out to be soiled diapers crammed into air sickness bags.

Friday, August 18, 2006 

Create your own bagwear

Unashamed, even proud, that you collect airsickness bags?

Want to publicize your bag habit to the outside world?

Then order a T-shirt with your very own bag-related picture or slogan. makes it possible. Use this site to upload your graphic and compose your text. Choose the size and colour of the shirt you want, provide your credit card details, and all you have to do is wait for the postman to ring. also lets you design your own mugs, postage stamps, posters and postcards.

Thanks to Chris Hays for this tip.

Thursday, August 17, 2006 

An eye open for bags

When Dutch baggist Niek Vermeulen passed the 1000-bag mark, someone gave him this fine memento.

The size of a standard barfbag, this art deco piece has an ear in the gusset instead of a manufacturer's logo.

The hidden meaning?

"Always keep at least one eye and one ear open to find bags", says Niek.

Thursday, August 17, 2006 

While we're on ceramics...

The less-than-mint-condition brown paper bag in this photo is not what it seems.

It's not a bag.

And it's not paper.

It's a vase made of finest china. Cunningly disguised to look like the sort of bag that you used to find in seat pockets on Soviet-era flights from Archangel'sk to Petrozavodsk.

This bag, er, vase, graces the desk of Dutch baggist Niek Vermeulen.

Ideal for a bunch of bagonias?

Thursday, August 17, 2006 

Bagsite of the month

Bagsite of the month for August 2006 (and September - I'm a bit late this month) is, the joint site of German Baggisten Thorsten Hecht and Gerhard Lang.

This site has over 2500 bags on permanent display. That's over a hundred more than

Thorsten and Gerhard have laboured hard to provide visitors with a magnificent bag experience. Click on the thumbnails and up pop larger images of the front and back of each bag, along with a summary of the bag construction.

Want to know if a bag is made of glossy or matte paper, has a flat or pointed base, and what the manufacturer's logo in the gusset looks like? is the reference site of choice for serious baggists.

There's a detailed swaps list with some especially desirable items on offer. Well worth a visit.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 

Caveat emptor

Trading in stolen bags has become common on the internet auction site eBay.

But it comes with a risk.

Especially if you trade with Massachusetts-based baggist Steve Silberberg (eBay alias: stevebo).

eBay offers traders a chance to give feedback about the seller or buyer. Most write something inane like "Great Ebayer. Fast Payer and real pleasure.... Thank you.... A++++++++++++++"

Not Steve. You risk a hernia, or worse - from laughing at his feedback.

Sunday, August 13, 2006 

So many people with nothing better to do

It's hard to believe that so many people have so much time to waste.

Over 40,000 lost souls have strayed into in the last five years. Several thousand more erred this way in the years before visitor counting started in September 2001.

At least a dozen visitors have requested a free starter pack of bags - swelling the numbers of baggists worldwide. That's a success rate of 0.03% - a rate that Donald Rumsfeld would be proud of.

Now all I need is a way to turn this horde of visitors into cash to support my bag-collecting habit. Maybe I could start charging for entry to choice bits of this site?

Sunday, August 13, 2006 


What better way to announce job vacancies in the catering department than on a barfbag?

US-based low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines did just that in this 1999 full-page glossy magazine advertisement.

(OK, so maybe it wasn't the catering department.)

Click here to see the complete advertisement, and here for the link on the airline's website.

In 1988, Southwest also produced a video plug featuring its chief executive wearing a bag over his head (not a barfbag, though). Click here for the clip.

Thanks to Chris Hays for this lead.

Sunday, August 13, 2006 

You know what sickbags look like...

Now you can listen to the sound they make.

Formed in 2003, the French heavy metal band Sickbag plays a "Crossover Grindcore, a mix of death metal, hardcore, grindcore, sludge, crust... with influences from bands like Carcass, Napalm Death, Burnt By The Sun, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch, Daughters, Dying Fetus..."

The band's first demo CD basks in the title Vomiting Reflex, while its 2004 recording, A Perfect World Of Shit "received a great feedback from audience and medias", according to the band's website.

The band also figures on the Sumo Dysentery compilation.

If you really want to experience Sickbag's sound, you're going to have to catch one of their gigs: there are no audio clips on the band's website. I'm afraid you've missed their performances in Banska (Slovakia), Trutnov (Czech Republic) and Evpatoria (Ukraine). Hurry and you might catch them in Reims on 23 Sept 2006.

Thanks to Chris Hays for this lead.

Sunday, August 13, 2006 

Build your own cardbag

Help your friends and relatives get ready for all those booze-ups over the coming festive season.

Give them a practical Christmas card: one they can turn into a barfbag!

This innovative 1999 design come from British baggist Andrew Goldsmith.

Click on the image for a ready-to-print card.

Saturday, August 12, 2006 

Wikipedia does bags

Want to know which is the better online encyclopedia: Wikipedia or the Encyclopaedia Britannica?

Just search for "airsickness bag" on both.

Wikipedia has an informative article, based on an original written by British baggist Graham Curran. It mentions Gilmore Schjeldahl as inventor of the plastic-lined bag, and identifies a certain Niek Vermeulen as world record holder for the number of different bags. There are links to several bagsites, including's cartoon collection.

The article even mentions the existence of a "sub-culture of sickness-bag aficionados". I wonder who that might be...?

Britannica just says "Sorry, we were unable to find results for your search".

Saturday, August 12, 2006 

Your inflight counsellor

Battling rising costs, Croatian carrier Adria is cutting back on cabin staff. It has axed its unique onboard psychiatric counselling service for passengers suffering from claustrophobia, aviophobia and vertigo, or those merely alarmed by heightened turbulence over the Dinaric Alps.

These staff have been replaced by barfbags, depicted here, inscribed with a friendly message on the outside.

Anxious passengers are invited to peer inside to read secret messages of reassurance printed in the base of the bag.

Thanks to Chris Hays for this alert and the scan. Anyone got a spare of this bag they would like to trade?

Thursday, August 10, 2006 

Only 137 shopping days left to Christmas

There's still time to order a bag-themed gift for your wife, girlfriend or mother-in-law: a vase decorated as an airsickness bag.

This series of porcelain table accessories include large and small vases and bowls using bag designs from Air India, Air Vietnam, China Eastern and Thai.

These items were designed by Austrian ceramic artist Hedwig Rotter. They cost between €40 and €48 each.

Most of the designs should be familiar to baggists. The exception is the Air Vietnam vase, which features an aeroplane that appears to be constructed from paperclips.

Click on the images for a closer view. To order these items, visit and click on accessories.

Download the price catalogue to see the full range of what it calls Fernwehvasen (itchy feet vases), including the picturesque reverse of the China Eastern vase.

Thanks to Chris Hays for this alert.

Thursday, August 10, 2006 

Paper or plastic?

"I don’t know about the rest of the world, but 'paper or plastic?' is the usual question posed at the supermarket checkout by the person bagging your purchases. It refers to the type of bag desired", says US baggist David Shomper.

"I know that in much of Europe you are usually expected to bag your own purchases, but in Lazy America, we actually pay people to do it for us."

Click on the picture to see the whole cartoon.

Sunday, August 06, 2006 

Another use for plain white bags

Here's another idea for how to use those plain white bags that continue to bore passengers around the globe: use them to communicate with terra firma.

This use was pioneered by Daryl Dickerson, who was piloting a light aircraft over Grants Pass airport in Oregon. The plane's electrical systems failed, leaving him without a radio.

Mr Dickerson wrote notes on the bags and tossed them out of the plane. "Is our landing gear down and locked?" he wrote. He asked observers on the ground to cross their arms if the wheels on the Piper Comanche were not down.

When he saw several people crossing their arms, he flew on to the Rogue Valley International - Medford Airport, which has emergency services. On the way, he and his instructor Ray Keough succeeded in lowering the gear manually, and the plane landed safely.

Messrs Dickerson and Keough were lucky to have a stock of plain paper bags on board. Imagine their dilemma if their bags had been plastic (needs a marker pen to write on) or highly decorated (hard to read a message, and likely to be snapped up by avid collectors on Earth impact).

With the use of mobile phones on board prohibited, dropping bags out of the door is one of the few ways passengers can keep in touch with their loved ones below. Handy instructions on how to open aircraft doors can be found on safety cards in every seat pocket.

Saturday, August 05, 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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