Things to do with airsickness bags...

...apart from collecting them, that is.

You're just settling into your limited-legroom economy-class seat, when your seat neighbour arrives with far more carry-on luggage than is allowed under IATA rules. He or she proceeds to fill up the overhead bins and surround your feet with baggage. What to do?

Simple: pull out the barfbag from your seat pocket, hold it in front of your mouth, and look ill.

Chances are your overladen friend will even ask to change seats.

This and more travel tips from Mayne Travel.

Bag paintings

Yet another use for plain white bags: as a painting canvas.

Artist Richard Winchell has used plain whites, plus one of those boring Delta bags, as background for a series of graphics.

Next time you take one of those plain-white airlines, smuggle your paintbrushes past the security check, ask the stewardess for a glass of water to dip your brushes in, and let your imagination fly.

Bags of cash?

Baggists may find themselves inadvertently paying for other people's Himalayan trekking holidays.

The August 2003 edition of the Bhutan Society Newsletter contained an article inviting readers to collect Druk Air bags for sale to collectors. It cited the sale of a Druk bag on eBay to an American collector for the princely sum of $106.

And to think that last year I traded my supply of Druks on a one-for-one basis!

Break up with a bag

Been wondering how to tell your Significant Other that it's all over? Try writing it on a barfbag, like an anonymous author did... then left the bag to be found at Los Angeles International Airport:

"I think this is it for us... You don't even know how much of a tremendous loss this is for me."

A rough draft, perhaps?

The bag appears in Found Magazine. See the Washington Post report of 7 November 2004 for more.

Another new use for bags?

Feel The Pain

Email from a police science institute: Could I please supply samples of my dogshit bag collection

"Somebody tried to strangle a young man with a doggybag. This young man tried to take off the bag before dying. We found under the nails of the corpse some traces of plastic and we want to make sure it could be a doggy bag..."

Ewk - the poor victim... and what a way to die.

Naturally, I'm pleased to serve the cause of justice. I've chopped up my dogbags and have sent them off to the police institute. They've promised me more details when the case has gone through the courts. 

Note: Using bags as an asphyxiation tool works only if they are made of plastic. Paper bags are not sufficiently robust, and are usually too small to be either placed over the head or wrapped around the neck. (April 2004)

Beware of the fried chicken


Robert Tripp (sadly, a non-collector) reports a hitherto undocumented use for barfbags:

"Many years ago I was on a domestic flight in the US that had an intermediate stop. On the first leg of the flight I was surrounded by a troupe of Girl Scouts. One of their leaders was next to me, and midway in the flight she stood up and said, 'Don't forget the bags, girls.' 'Yes, Mrs. Williams', was the response. She said to me, 'I always gather up as many as I can -- they are plastic lined and wonderful for making fried chicken.' 

"At the intermediate stop the girls got off and another set of passengers boarded. I paid no attention to the man next to me until we were on the runway and about to take off. I found his head on my shoulder and he looked up and slurred, 'I'm drunk as a skunk.' And not a barf bag on board! Fortunately he went to sleep (not on my shoulder)."

Rob kindly explained further for those with limited experience in the fried-chicken branch: 

"If you make fried chicken, you get the flour, spices, etc. and the chicken leg and you throw them all in the bag and shake, to evenly coat the chicken, before frying. So stay away from the fried chicken at Girl Scout picnics." 

Bags can be dangerous for your health

Don't put food into this bag -- unless it's been in your stomach first.

Baudouin, a flight attendant for Air Littoral, warns against using bags to smuggle food off the plane.  "NEVER put any unprotected food directly into the bag as these are covered with a special coating that might be harmful", he says.

However, an interview in Die Zeit on 17 May 2001 quotes Robert Elsaesser, CEO of Swiss bagmaker Elag, as saying that his bags are perfectly safe to serve ice cream in.

Despite such assurances, I've withdrawn the suggestion from my list of alternative uses for bags (below). So if you've got ill after finishing off that yummy seafood pilaf you'd saved in your bag, sue the airline, the bag manufacturer, the airline caterer, the cabin crew -- anyone but me and Baudouin.

Maybe bag designers should add a health warning -- a little graphic of someone eating out of a bag, with a big red cross over it, perhaps. 

If you do use a bag to store food, keep it. You might need it if you get sick after eating the food. 

Don't like the person in the seat next to you?  

Or maybe you want to entertain a small child during a long flight? Try this trick: a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Bring a cup of muesli or oatmeal with you onto the plane. Make sure no one is looking, then take an airsickness bag and tip the muesli into it. Put the bag back into the seat pocket in front of you.

At an appropriate moment during the flight, suddenly pull out the bag and pretend to throw up into it (a suitable display of the right noises makes this convincing). Then take a spoon and start eating the muesli from the bag.

Make sure the bag is clean before you put in the muesli. This trick also works well with yoghurt. (In light of the caution above, though, make sure you are using a certified uncoated bag first.)

Other possible bag uses

*not prohibited by Air Littoral


Use a bag to carry your passport and air ticket.


Cabin hot and sweaty? Use your bag as a fan. Make sure it is empty first.


Hang them up around your living room at the end of the year. Colourful and pretty, bags make excellent Christmas decorations.


Another festive idea: pop that gift in a bag, and presto, instant wrapping paper. See KLM for a variation of this use.


Mail a bag to a friend. Don't forget to stick on a stamp.


Use empty bags as a cheap (nay, free) and convenient filing system while you're on the road. Use one bag for receipts and hotel bills, one for notes, another for business cards.  


Use your bag as a notepad -- a good use for plain white bags. 


Use them to store your slide collection (thanks to James Mangan for this idea). 


Put soiled diapers in them (see the Emergency Landing story below).


Put rubbish in them. On a recent flight, I tried to stop a couple of African diplomats ruining some rare specimens in this way. They didn't understand how much better it would be if they gave their bags to me and threw the rubbish on the floor. 


Use them to make glove puppets (thanks to Jim Green for this idea).


Use them to transport live goldfish. Just one of several innovative ideas in the Barf-o-rama site.


Building a sandcastle on the beach? Use your barfbag as a bucket for sand and water (thanks to Kawakami Tsukasa for this idea).


Collect insects in your bag (another useful tip from Kawakami Tsukasa).


Use bags to serve ice cream (suggested by Robert Elsaesser, CEO of Swiss bagmaker Elag [I think he's just trying to boost sales]).


Warm up your baby's milk bottle in a bag full of hot water (another Elsaesser suggestion). 


Keep your toothbrush and toothpaste in it (thanks to Bruce Kelly).


Use them to coat chicken with your favourite spicy coating before frying (see above). 


Any more ideas? Send them to me, and I'll credit you on this page!

Emergency landing

"When suspicious parcels were noted aboard a TWA airliner, the pilot made an emergency landing. The packages were removed and promptly blown up. An investigation, however, showed they were soiled diapers crammed into air sickness bags." (From Our Fascinating Earth by Philip Seff, The Wenatchee World, Friday 17 Sept 1993.) (Thanks to Bruce Kelly)

Actually, having seen the miserable, plain white bag that TWA offers, I'm not surprised that a passenger decided to stuff diapers into it rather than steal it.