Airsickness Bags

Airsickness Bags: Everything you need to know, but were afraid to ask

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Do airplanes still carry airsickness bags?

Yes. According to the Wall Street Journal, the airlines use about 20 million a year. But the numbers may be decreasing, because as a cost-savings measure some airlines no longer put airsickness bags in every seatback, but instead keep a supply in the galley. If a passenger needs a bag they have to ask a flight attendant. The shortcoming of this system becomes most obvious during turbulence severe enough that the pilot asks flight attendants to take their seats.

Why shouldn’t you use airsickness bags to store things in?

If the passenger who occupied your seat just before you spent the flight clipping their nails or picking their nose, where would the evidence of those activities most likely end up?

What other uses can airsickness bags be put to?

As finger puppets and ad space, mailers for illicit drugs, carrying the ashes of a family member you had issues with, and, most effectively, as stationary for unequivocal goodbye notes. They are also very popular among collectors, except for the bags found aboard U.S. aircraft, which are almost uniformly, generically, white.

What kind of person collects airsickness bags?

A person like Steve “Upheave” Silverberg, whose Airsickness Bag Virtual Museum has 2,806 exhibits. Among their collecting friends, who are often their only friends, they almost universally call themselves baggists.

Is Steve’s the world’s largest collection of airsickness bags?

Not even close. According to Guinness World Records, a Dutchman named Niek Vermeulen has the largest collection of airsickness bags: 6,290 from 1,191 airlines. However, American Bruce Kelly appears to have a collection of 6,473 bags, from 1,370 airlines. As they are constantly adding to their collections, it is hard to tell at any given time who is the record-holder. But the fact that Kelly, very unusually for a collector, developed his interest in airsickness bags while barfing into them aboard bush planes in rural Alaska, where he lives, gives him a standing one is inclined to pull for.

What’s the most sought-after airsickness bag?

From Air Force One, imprinted with the Presidential Seal, and purported to exist only in a scene from the film Independence Day.

Are airsickness bags all the same size?

No. In 2007, Virgin Atlantic created an airsickness bag so big it could have been used for smuggling children aboard. Bright red, it was printed with a long message that began: “How did air travel become so bloody awful?”

Who invented the airsickness bag?

Gilmore Schieldahl, of Esmond, North Dakota, is widely credited with creating a plastic-lined bag for Northwest Airlines in 1949. Among Schieldahl’s many inventions, which included an early communications satellite launched by NASA, the airsickness bag is said to be the one he was least happy to remembered for.

Is there a top-ten list of websites devoted to airsickness bags?

Of course. Look for it here.  But be warned that it does contain verse.



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