Bags in the media  

I'm happy to report that airsickness bags are gradually pushing waterskiing squirrels and underwater motorcycling out of media primetime.


British baggist Steve James says his site has been featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, by Italian and British Internet magazines and web referrals -- resulting in thousands of hits and reinvigorated interest in the Science and Art of Baggery. He's also received requests to appear in radio shows... "at this rate sickbag sites may become the new alternative to porn!" (28 Feb 2002)

SBS Radio, an Australian public broadcasting station, aired a programme on barfbags on 13 November 2002. The programme features interviews with Oz (?) Dean, proprietor of the admirable Design for Chunks website, a stewardess experienced in onboard bag management, and me :-). Download it here or at (MP3, 1697 kb) 

Here are some reviews of the broadcast:

"can we all please note that barfbags are not currently the no.1 conversation piece at australian dinner parties, however now that sbs has broadcast this bit of award winning journalism i dare say it will climb up the agenda. i myself cannot wait to sit down at the next barbie and discuss the finer points of the pleating and folds of a go-jet bag!"

"I'm so sad that I have just downloaded AND listened to this informative piece of investigative journalism.  (mental note to self: must get out more)"



Stephen James reports: "I have been interviewed by CFYZ, Toronto Airport's own radio station about my collection. You can listen to it by clicking here and clicking the 1280 cfyz banner towards top of page. Usually played between 2-7 pm Canadian time. Can be a long time between when it is aired but if you have an hour to spare and nothing better to do have a listen." (18 Jun 2002) Joe "Shithead" Keithley has Vince and Thomas as guests Sept 28, 2000

Steve Silberberg was interviewed for a Vancouver internet radio/TV station on 24 November 2000. Actually, I can claim some credit for this: the show's host contacted me first, but the interview would have been in the middle of the night for me because of the time zone difference. So I put her in touch with Steve who, I'm sure gave his usual sparkling performance.


Niek Vermeulen reports that he was filmed by a Croatian filmcrew in early April 2002.


The 2 January 2005 edition of Die Welt am Sonntag (a quality German Sunday paper) carried a half-page article about barfbags.

The article was stimulated by Virgin Atlantic's decision to treat passengers to designer bags. It reviews several bagsites, including

Click here for the full article.

Thanks to Barbara and Wolfhard Schlosser for alerting me to this item.

The Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the major daily newspaper in Cologne, carried an article on bags in its 3 March 2002 edition. Unfortunately the article contains several errors. For example, it claims that long-distance flights have bigger bags than internal ones. Walter Brinker correctly points out that most bags are a standard size, or that internal flights tend to have larger ones (due, no doubt, to the lower flying altitudes, greater turbulence and smaller planes used). 

The article goes on to link the number of bags used with the quality of food on that airline. Wrong again, says Walter. The number of bags used depends more on the quality of the bag; attractive designs are more popular among the legions of collectors than boring ones.

Click here to see the full text (sorry, it's in German). (28 Mar 2002)


Oliver Conradi appeared in Polylux, an ARD television programme with Tita von Hardenberg, at 00:00 in June 2001. Not quite prime-time, but then again, bagophiles do tend to stay up late.

Oliver previously starred in ZDF's Fernsehgarten on 30 July 2000, along with what he claims is the world's biggest collection of bags: 2500 bags from 1300 airlines. It was a busy weekend for him: on 1 August he featured in a Radio Schleswig Holstein programme.

Oliver now claims "close to 2600 bags from 1324 airlines", not counting plain bags. 

Oliver also appeared in the Dill-Zeitung (published in Dillenburg, Hamburg) in November 1997 (see picture). Click here to see the report.

German collector Walter Brinker starred in a Spiegel TV programme on 23 August 1999 on the SAT1 channel in Germany. Walter almost seemed sane after the crazy collectors of postcards, razor-sharpeners and moles (yes, moles) who were also featured in the programme.

On 17 May 1999, Walter featured on "Wat is", an ARD television programme in Germany hosted by Jürgen von der Lippes. Walter made an impassioned plea against generic bags, culminating in his ripping up a Eurowings bag on the air. He can afford it: his collection boasts 1167 bags from 560 airlines.


Max Sammet (the young dude on the left) appeared on an RTL talkshow with Hans Meiser at 15:00, central European Time on Monday 22 January 2001. Details on Max's website.


Die Zeit, a German weekly, carried a wide-ranging interview with Robert Elsaesser, head of Swiss bagmaker ELAG, in week 21 of 2001. Among the secrets he divulges:

ELAG sells 70 millions bags a year.


Bags have multiple uses, including for heating baby bottles, serving apperitifs, and of course, collecting.


ELAG's first bag customer was Olympic Airways, 20 years ago.


Perforated opening strips were introduced to thwart chewing-gum bandits who ruin bags by sticking gum in them.


ELAG's conference room has an exhibit of bags.


ELAG encourages collectors to steal bags from planes (increases the number they sell to airlines).

Read the full article (in German) here.   

"Can I have your bag afterwards?" 

From Disney's Micky Maus magazine, Germany. 

According to Aero International, a German civil-aviation magazine, bag-collecting is a "kuriose Leidenschaft", a "curious hobby". The July 2002 edition of this mag has a feature article about bag collecting -- featuring this website.


Guido Debenedetti and his collection were featured in the Turin newspaper La Stampa of 19-25 November 1999.

Fulvio M. Dossena was interviewed live on the national Italian station Radio 2 on 6 August 2001 6:20 p.m. Primetime! 


Over the last 20 years, Niek Vermeulen (featured in the Guinness Book of Records as having the largest bag collection on the planet) has appeared on television 22 times in the USA, five times in the Netherlands, and once in Germany. He's also been featured on the radio (Canada and Netherlands) and the press.

This is what Radio Nederland thinks I look like. A short article on weird collections at speculates that my bag collection reveals something about me... 

Mistakes in the picture on the left? Well, I never use barfbags: that would ruin them for collection purposes. And the impostor in the picture has a snappier haircut than me. (14 July 2002)  


A must-read BBC story about vomit-filled barfbags in the Russian space programme. (26 Nov 2000) 


Rune Tapper reports that his barfbag collection ( was featured in Aftonbladet, Sweden's largest evening paper, on 17 March 2002.

"The interview featured a list of biggest, ugliest, most wanted and so on bag", says Rune. "The paper also arranged a lottery where people could win three start kits for beginner collectors. Each kit containing five different bags from my swap box." 

Rune has kindly translated the article into English for those few collectors who aren't fluent in Swedish. Rune seems to be quite a media celebrity up there in Sweden. Must be something to do with those long, dark, cold Scandinavian winters...

This and more stories on Rune at (23 Mar 2002)


The Guardian carried a story on travel-related collectibles in its Saturday 5 March edition. This lengthy article included the following section on baggery (click here for the full article):

Bagging an offbeat collector's item

You don't need to have experienced endless bumpy rides in creaky 747s to get into it, but it helps.

Passenger sick bag collecting is the most off-beat area of aviation memorabilia, and with hundreds of airlines all over the world changing bag designs as frequently as there are French air traffic control strikes, collectors must know their Aeroflots from their Air Afriques.

One bag from short-lived British airline Court Line fetched more than £100. Other novelties include Finnaviation's 1996 "barfing reindeer" graphic and a green and white Philippine Airlines sack which simply says For Motion Discomfort.

Swedish collector Rune Tapper has more than 600 examples on his website, - although Steven Silberberg of claims to have sick bags from Nasa's space shuttle. Unused, we hope.


The gem below is from the Science Notebook column in the 10 January 2005 edition of The Times, a British newspaper. The article is by Anjana Ahuja.

A CLOSE friend used to collect air-sickness bags. A true patron of puke, he defended his odd assemblage as a narrative on both the airline industry and world history. To him, his wall spoke of defunct airlines, fallen empires and virgin nations.

Sick sacks, or barf bags, as they are also known, are a common target of hoarding behaviour. The best ones go for more than $200 on eBay and everyone wants one from the space shuttle. Now the universal, if baffling, acquisitive tendency — 70 species of animal hoard — has come under scrutiny at the University of Iowa.

The researchers took 86 brain-injured people and asked close relatives to assess whether they indulged in “abnormal” collecting behaviour, such as hoarding useless or unattractive items, being resistant to a clear-out even after interest had waned, and having a very extensive collection. Thirteen patients showed such traits, filling their homes with, among other objects, junk mail and broken appliances. All were brain-scanned.

“A pretty clear finding jumped out at us: damage to a part of the frontal lobes of the cortex, particularly on the right side, was shared by the individuals with abnormal behaviour,” said Dr Steven Anderson, who led the investigation. The insight could help those researching obsessive- compulsive disorder, schizophrenia and dementia, which can all be associated with pathological collecting.

A BBC TV's "RecordBreakers" programme in October 1999 came from London City Airport. The programme featured Aidan Stradling, who says: 

"I was duly collected by a BBC car and given one of the departure lounges at LCY as my 'green room' (!). The filming for the item went very well, with an interview of me by Linford Christie and a display of a range of bags, together lasting three or four minutes. They even presented me with a Record Breakers sick bag (a blank one with 2 stickers on it!)." home

A producer for Channel Four in the UK was looking for barfbag collectors who want to be on TV. Contact Inge Ejbye Sorensen at Speakeasy Productions, tel +44-141-568 7150. (February 1999)

The science of vomitology is grabbing the headlines and the public imagination. Recent BBC Online stories include an account of dinosaur vomit and one on the use of barfbags to promote awareness of hygiene. (12 Feb 2002)

Photo: John Baxter

British baggist Aidan Stradling reports on "a publication that hit the book shops shortly before Christmas.  It's a rather natty book called "Men and Collections". Coming from the same stable that produced "Men and Sheds" the previous year, it contains a series of cameo pen pictures and photographs of men and their weird and wonderful collections.  Well, you've guessed it - the sick bags are in there.  Pictured alongside yours truly.  Available from all good book shops - and, of course.  There are some rather amazing collections featured - definitely a book worth a look!

On the left is the pic of Aidan from the book. Hint: if you want to keep your bags in mint condition, do not spread them out on the floor and lie on them. 

I'm trying to get Aidan  to send me that vintage Air France bag under his elbow. (25 Jan 2004)



CNN International published an article titled Flight bags are no barfing matter in its edition of Friday, November 21, 2003. The article cites US baggist Steve Silberberg and mentions his Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum.

Germany leads the world in terms of airsickness bag collectors, says Steve, followed by the UK and the USA.

Click here to read the full article.

"The North Adams Transcript, a small paper here in Massachusetts, published an article that mentions our cherished sport of bag collecting", says baggist Steve Silberberg.

The article mentions two bagsites: Steve's own Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum, and Rune Tapper's

The article is sandwiched between Alan Radecki's "The Wonderful World of Airline Napkins" and "The Virtual Toilet Paper Museum Exhibit Hall".

For those of you unfamiliar with northwestern Massacchussetts, North Adams is in the swanky Berkshires. Click here to read the article.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal featured Dutch collector Niek Vermeulen in its 16 July 1998 edition. Check out the report here

Niek's collection is also featured at the Guinness World of Records Museum in Las Vegas. Click here for more. 

In fact, that's just about the only reason I can think of to visit Vegas... (12 April 2002)

The Sun Herald newspaper in Biloxi, Mississippi, somehow has the notion that collecting barfbags is strange.

It lists a series of "weird" records from the 2005 Guinness Book of World Records, including "Most spoons balanced on a face" and "Longest game of kingyosukui" (a Japanese game that involves catching goldfish in a paper net).

On the list is the world's biggest airsick bag collection:

"A man in the Netherlands has at least 3,240 'barf bags' from 740 airlines."

The Sun Herald doesn't deign to reveal the man's name: Niek Vermeulen. Apart from being the world's biggest baggist, Niek has contributed several of the rarer bags in the Bagophily collection, including the Air Force One bag. Click here for more.

In May 2004, Utah reporter Peter Rosen of KUTV planned to do a TV feature on barfbags. There don't seem to be any collectors in Utah, so he was trying to interview bag collectors worldwide using their home video equipment.

Also in May 2004, baggist Steve Silberberg announced:

I was contacted by a magazine called "Endless Vacation". The magazine wants to do an article about motion sickness and would like to interview people who get airsick, seasick, or even car sick. Can you refer anyone to the magazine?

Alaskan collector Bruce Kelly reports that barfbags have featured on magazine covers:

I ran across some old Mad Magazines in a flea market and noted some with covers that showed barf bags. I then proceeded to collect all 4 known
mags featuring barf bags on the cover. At the time I was also hopeful I might discover some clever bag inserts in the magazines, but no luck. They are just covers.  

The cover of Mad4 (shown on the left) illustrates perhaps another use for bags, although I would consider it quite a dangerous act to perform today, particularly with the advent of armed sky marshals. (15 January 2004)

Aviation pioneer's barfbag found in jungle

If it's in the newspaper, it's gotta be true... According to a US newspaper, pioneer aviator Amelia Earhart made it across the Pacific before she was lost in 1937. Her barfbag "has been found" in near-perfect condition in the Kiribati  island of Nikumaroro.

DNA tests of the bag contents "match Earhart's".

That's what respected US supermarket tabloid Weekly World News revealed on 5 August 2003.

The find would make it one of the planet's oldest barfbags. The picture on the left certainly looks a lot better than many bags in my collection.

Click on the image for more.

Thanks to Bedford McIntosh for this scoop. (August 2003)

The movie Independence Day (20th Century Fox, 1996) features Jeff Goldblum (holding bag) and Judd Hirsch feeling sick on Air Force One (that's the US President's private jet, in case you didn't know).

Sadly, the movie bag bears no relation to the pukepaks on the real Air Force One. Instead of proudly displaying the presidential seal, the real one is a miserable plain white plastic creation. (Feburary 2002; thanks to Graham Curran's Vomitorium, where I lifted the movie stills)

In keeping with its hard-news image, the Wall Street Journal carried an article about the history and collecting of barfbags in its 4 October 2000 edition. Anyone got a copy so I can add it to the archives on this site?


More popular than Bush... though that's not hard. This is Steve Silberberg, of Dallas, Texas -- who, for reasons best known to himself, wanted to appear on 'Baywatch', a American TV serial featuring hunky lifesavers who scan the horizon for skimpy bikinis. Hence the show's alternative names: 'Babewatch', 'Breastwatch', 'Bumwatch' and 'Boobwatch'.  

Steve entered a competition to appear on the programme; he garnered enough votes to reach the final 12 but was beaten by a geek in a non-floral shirt. 

Steve tells me that the programme has now been cancelled: because of poor casting, perhaps?

What does this have to do with barfbags? Well, Steve is a renowned collector: he runs the site. Plus, 'boobs' translates into German as 'Tüten' -- which also means 'bags'. Maybe the show should be called 'Bagwatch'? 

Visit Steve's site to hear his praise for Cathay Pacific's bags on US National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" programme.

If you live in Baltimore, you and your collection could have been featured in Baltimore Magazine. Contact Diane Booth at +1-410-557-9335. (April 1999)