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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 the box

If you are lucky enough to live in northern Germany, you might have caught Oliver Conradi and his bag collection on NDR3 television on 27 Feb 2008.

The Das! programme sandwiched Oliver's bags between stories about herrings and goats.

Among the secrets divulged: the size of Oliver's collection: 5100 bags. In the interest of family harmony, the bags have been banished to a filing cabinet in his basement. And Oliver chats up stewardesses in order to get at their bags (OK, so maybe that wasn't a secret after all).

Oliver has been attracting a fair amount of media attention recently. Last week a report about his collection appeared on Dutch television, while in May/June a photo exhibition will tour Eindhoven and Amsterdam. Oliver says that an illustrated book is in the works.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 

More bagtoons

The bagartists at have been putting in some overtime recently.

Visit the Art Department to see their latest masterpieces.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 

The Rolls-Royce of barfbags

"Have you succumbed to the unbridled joy of Air Sickness Bag Collecting? Do you have vomit fever?" asks the website selling the modestly named Convenience Bag.

This has got to be the ultimate in luxury vomit receptacles - a plastic bag with an extra-wide funnel opening, inner valve to seal the contents in, and patented sleeve to protect your hand from toxic splatter.

All this is available from the the Survival Store, a California firm that enables paranoid customers prepare for the worst: "H5N1 Avian Bird Flu, Armageddon, avalanche, blizzard, crisis, terrorist attack, tornado, tsunami, major disaster, firestorm, heat wave, earthquake, hurricane, Severe Weather, flood, anthrax, hazardous chemical accidents or other emergency."

The little girl pictured on the left is clearly suffering from all of these. That's why she needs a Convenience Bag. Visit the Survival Store webpage to watch her use it.

While you're there, pick up your own supply of bags at only $24.95 per dozen. Ideal for the next outbreak of avian flu.

Baggists eagerly await news that airlines have emblazoned these bags with their logos and have begun to stock them on board.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 

"Puke And Advertising Don't Mix"

Remember the hype when US Airways decided to put advertising on its barfbags?

Click here for some learned comments from the advertising industry about this move. "Believe it or not, there are also people that actually collect these things!" (Duh, are they talking about us?)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 

Bagsite of the Month, March 2008

One of the unsung trends in world baggery is the growing number of baggists in Japan. Unusually for the bag-collecting industry, most bag aficionados in the Land of Sony and Sushi appear to be women. And happily for bagophiles worldwide, they are beginning to put their collections online.

The latest to come to our attention at is Kyoko Hagino-Tomioka's site, げろ袋コレクション

If your Japanese is not up to scratch, try the English version of the site.

Kyoko's small collection is rich in Japanese and East Asian bags, including the hard-to-find Osaka Airport Transport wastebag (pictured on the left). Click on the links to see a scan of each of her bags in all its glory. And don't forget to check Kyoko's swap list for Asian items that may be missing in Eurocentric collections.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 

A shake and a smile

"When I describe my hobby, they first shake their head, then they smile", says Gerhard Lang.

The Baden-Wuerttemberg-based baggist is featured in the January edition of the German eBay Magazin - along with grandson Julian and a bunch of bags waiting to be filled.

Click on the photo to read the article.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 

Ridiculous: moi?

Buzzfeed, a site devoted to weird stuff, has nominated as one of its eight best "ridiculous collections".

Coming in at fourth, just missed out on a podium position. Scoring more are collections of Star Wars figurines, a music collection containing 3 million records, and a collection of stale cigarettes.

Bagophily finished above collections of toothpaste, sugar, rubber bands used to package vegetables, and dice.

All of which are far more ridiculous collectibles than barfbags. After all, research reveals that at least 10% of the adult population are closet baggists.

The music collection, claimed to be the world's largest, was sold on Ebay for $3,002,150. Savvy winning bidders could get $10 back by applying for an eBay Mastercard, as well as "up to $200 in buyer protection".

The bag collection is not currently for sale. But make an offer approaching $3 million, and my wife will be pleased to hear from you.

Thanks to Steve Silberberg for the heads up.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 

Going boating?

Then don't forget to take a few barfbags with you.

They come in useful for a variety of purposes: to deal with seasick passengers who do not wish to feed the fish - and as decorative lighting.

"Attached is a photo I took in 1986 of our canalboat moored in the South Oxford Canal between Oxford and Wolvercote," says David Shomper.

"My friends and I took quite a few barfbags off the plane and decorated our boat in the evenings with votive candles inside the bags. Aside from a few bags catching fire, it was a successful art exhibit. We also lit the candles to cruise through the several long tunnels on the Grand Union Canal."

Saturday, February 16, 2008 

Beg, borrow or steal?

Bagsurvey question

In the last year, how many new bags (ie, bags of a type you did not have before) have come from the following sources?

  • Stolen: Collected yourself from aircraft or airports
  • Requests: Requested from bag manufacturers, airlines, etc.
  • Gifts: Donated by friends, relatives, etc.
  • Swaps: Exchange with or donations from other collectors
  • Ebay: Purchased via Ebay
  • Bought: Purchased by routes other than Ebay (eg at collectors’ conventions)
  • Other: Other (please specify).

Where do all those bags come from? Out of aeroplanes, of course... but how do they get from the seat pocket in front of you into a bag collection?'s first ever survey asked baggists the question on the left.

Eight baggists have responded so far: hardly a representative sample, given the zillions of bag aficionados out there, but obviously most baggists are too busy, or too shy, to respond. Responses varied widely: one miserable baggist admitted to having enriched his collection by only six new bags in previous year. Another summarized the provenance of over 2000 bags in his collection.

The results depend, or course, on how you view the world. Interested in total numbers? Then look at this diagram.

Ebay auctions are clearly the main source, followed by swaps and theft. But these results are skewed by two respondents with large collections who bought heavily on Ebay.

The diagram below shows the same data, but treating all eight respondents equally. Here, swaps and gifts are the main sources, while Ebay drops into third place.

Thanks to those baggists who responded. If you haven't answered yet, send me your responses to the questions above, and I'll update the analysis.

Saturday, February 16, 2008 

To bagly go

Will barfbags be accompanying humankind on its next great journey - into space?

Bags have been around since the dawn of powered flight, and they have already provided sterling service to maintain hygienic conditions on board rockets, including the Space Shuttle.

But what of the future? Will they be on board Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two (pictured on the left) carry bags?

According to this article in The Economist, Virgin Galactic's president Will Whitehorn says one operator of zero-gravity aeroplane rides has virtually eliminated the vomiting, thanks to a combination of “diet, drugs, training and methodology”.

This operator presumably is Las-Vegas-based Zero-G, which offers weightless flights in a specially modified Boeing 727-200.

So the future of baggery looks bleak. Are barfbag doomed to remain earthbound? And will cost-cutting airlines learn from approaches used in space? They could save on bags by starving passengers, then drugging them and putting them through a barf training course before allowing them on board.

The one hope for baggery appears to be the value of bags to boost the image of airlines. There is already a clear distinction between airlines, such as Virgin Atlantic, that aggressively pursue a bag-based branding strategy, and those which provide boring bags to complement their mediocre onboard service.

Ironically, it is often the low-cost airlines that provide passengers with more entertaining bags. Germanwings, for example, has produced a range of innovative designs, while rival HLX counters with puns to advertise its services. Most established carriers, such as Air France, Lufthansa and almost all US-based airlines, seem to think that a video screen and airline magazine are enough to keep their customers entertained while on board.'s seers predict the emergence of a similar distinction in space. Once the initial hype about overpriced short-duration suborbital hops has subsided, expect to see the emergence of a two-tier spaceline industry: innovative start-ups that provide barfbags emblazoned with ritzy holographic logos, and established players that focus on getting passengers from A to Ω at minimum expense, and without any bags.

Thursday, February 14, 2008 

Don't throw out of the window

Aidan's bag has a handwritten note with the date - 1936...

Walter's is in mint condition

On modern Lufthansa aircraft, you're lucky if you get a bag at all. And if you do, you have a limited number of places to put it when full. Don't want to hand it to the cabin crew? Then you can put it on the floor, under your seat, or perhaps pass it to your neighbour across the aisle.

Back in the 1930s, lucky passengers had an extra option: they could open the window and drop the bag out. This was frowned upon in densely populated Germany.

So Lufthansa came up with a solution: boldface text on the bag saying "Nach Gebrauch, nicht aus dem Flugzeug werfen, sondern schliessen und auf den Boden stellen" (After use, do not through out of the aircraft, but close and place on the floor").

The Olde Bagges section of displays several examples of this genre, including this fine example belonging to British baggist Aidan Stradling.

Is this the same as Walter Brinker's Lufthansa bag, displayed on the same page? Or did the German aviation pioneer make subtle changes to its bag design even at this early stage in aviation history?

Friday, February 08, 2008 

Whales not interested in bags

The New England Aquarium in Boston goes to great lengths to protect nature when taking visitors out to spot whales.

Veteran baggist David Shomper reports that the Aquarium's boat provides barfbags to avoid seasick landlubbers from polluting the cetaceans' habitat by spewing over the side.

The bags are plain white - which may account for the whales' lack of interest in them. David's photos show them swimming away and diving rather than approaching to admire the bag design.

Friday, February 08, 2008 

Bagsearch ends in sweet shop

"The mystery Norwegian Air Shuttle bag comes to an end..." says Frank Mulliri.

"I took a picture of what I feared... The SMÅGODT bag is definitively NOT an airsickness bag... It can be found in all good shops around the kingdom selly candy under the brand Candy King."

Friday, February 08, 2008 

Bagsite of the Month, February 2008

Want a quick glance at some of those beautiful cultural artefacts that the common man uses to dispose of semi-digested food regurgitated after too many beers in the airport lounge just before boarding?

Then you could do worse than visiting this month's Bagsite of the Month, the Virtual Visimod Barf Bag Collection.

Created by computer geeks in a now-defunct media laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this site also represents a collection that no longer exists: it was relocated to Steve Silberberg's Air Sickness Bags Virtual Museum.

Still worth a visit for sentimental reasons though, especially if you're interested in some of the more unusual items in the genre: a bag made from an ancient issue of the Daily Telegraph (a conservative British newspaper), a C++ bag designed for hackers sick of the intricacies of the programming language, a rare Osaka Air Transport bag, and several cartoon bags.

You can also download wallpaper designs of bags to adorn your computer when you don't have open. And you can download a commemorative certificate to prove that you've visited the site.

Thursday, February 07, 2008 


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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