A New York City man who went into a coma more than six weeks ago while standing in a TSA security line at JFK Airport awoke today to discover he was closer to passing through the security line checkpoint.
“At first, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, but then I realized that one of the TSA agents who was putting bags through the scanner had gained at least fifteen pounds since I last noticed him,” said Jeremy Green, a sales representative who medical authorities believe may have suffered a seizure while trying to figure out how much of the cost of his ticket was for actual airfare and how much was for add-on fees.
“Going into a coma while in a TSA security line is an increasingly common condition,” said BobCarriesOn.com Medical Editor Bob Payne. He added that it is also increasingly difficult to catch the condition in its early stages, as more and more families and even businesses are reluctant to report missing passengers for fear that the airlines will respond by charging a fee to check their records to see if the passenger actually boarded.
In related news, another JFK passenger who spent a lengthy stay in a TSA security line was arrested last night for attempting to sell an undercover airport security agent outdated cheese products.
A new study commissioned by the Flight Attendants Union of America reveals that the average age of crying babies on airplanes is 43.
“That’s the age when crying babies begin to forget what it was like to fly with young children of their own,” said Flight Attendants Union of America spokesperson Bob Payne. “But they are not yet old enough to accept that nobody’s going to give them special treatment simply because they find certain of their fellow passengers irritating.”
“The babies you know will cry the most,” said Payne, “are those who come aboard talking loudly into a cell phone, or cradling a specially boxed gourmet sandwich, or already deeply engrossed in their Kindle.”
The average age of crying babies on airplanes has increased steadily, according to the study, ever since airlines introduced ancillary fees for baggage, food service, and armrest use, and began renting ballpoint pens for working on inflight magazine crossword and Sudoku puzzles.
The study notes that one positive effect of the increase in the average age of crying babies on airplanes is that it has become more and more acceptable for flight attendants to sedate crying babies, from the beverage cart, and charge them up to $8 for a 1.7 oz. mini bottle for each administering.
“It has certainly added to airline profitability,” Payne said.
Payne also notes, however, that with the increased average age of crying babies on planes has come the increased risk to other passengers and to cabin crew. It is only natural for babies to cry out when they experience the discomfort, pain, fear, rage, and homicidal impulses that have become a part of flying, Payne said. “But the uncontrolled outbursts that can result in an unscheduled landing are much more likely to come from a crying baby who is middle-aged than one who is an infant.”
An additional finding of the study was that the only place the average age of crying babies on airplanes hasn’t increased noticeably is in the cockpit, where for some time it has held steady at 44.8 years.
When not serving as a spokesperson for the Flight Attendants Union of America, Bob Payne is the editor in chief of the travel humor website BobCarriesOn.com, which has been offering accurate travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock.
Airsickness bags, as everyone knows, are proof that some people will collect anything. Airsickness bags are proof, too, that enough people aren’t embarrassed to talk about their collections that there is always a list of top-ten websites on the subject. So here’s the list of top-ten websites for collectors of airsickness bags and their friends, however few.
American Steve “Upheave” Silverberg’s site backs its claim of 2,806 exhibits currently in its virtual museum by posting an image and (often excellent) commentary for all. Here’s what it has to say about an Aegean Airlines airsickness bag illustrated with numbered dots: “Finally, an incredible bag that gives you something to do: Connect-the-dots! The only problem is, the connected dots form a drawing of the female reproductive system.” Steve also claims, although we haven’t tried this yet, that if you contact him he will send you a free three-sample Airsickness Bag Collectors Starter Kit.
Does American Bruce Kelly have the world’s largest online collection of airsickness bags? Perhaps. Does he deserve proper respect for developing his interest as a result of barfing into the bags while flying as a passenger aboard bush planes in rural Alaska? Absolutely. Among his newest acquisitions is a Norwegian Air Shuttle, bag labeled: “In a while will feel fine”.
Britt Paul Mundy’s site is extremely useful for learning about the world of baggists, as collectors of airsickness bags almost universally call themselves. Not only does it list the world’s top 76 baggists (which, you’ve got to assume, is just about all of them), but also details the many non-airsick purposes the bags can be put to (unequivocal goodbye notes, for one), and a link, for anyone who wants to go more deeply into the subject than even a dedicated collector might think necessary, to major airsickness bag makers.
This Danish site, by Thomas Homer Goetz, of Copenhagen, is short on text. But it does include images of some airsickness bags not seen on other sites, including one, from the Aero Club Zwickau, in Germany, that seems to show a pair of planes in such deep dives that all aboard are likely being reminded of what they had for their most recent meal.
From a group of German collectors, the images here make it a good site for checking out the limited edition airsick bags Virgin Atlantic produced back in 2004 for people who like the idea of contemporary art that’s in your face, literally. The site also includes a collection of airplane life jackets, which you hope they didn’t slip into their carry-ons the same way you can an airsickness bag.
Created by Swedish bagist Rune Tapper based on the belief that to get a lot of people to visit a website you have to offer pornography, free music downloads, or something really strange, Rune’s Barf Bag Collection confirms that Scandinavian nights can be really long. The site’s latest acquisition is a bag, from Taiwan-based Eva Air, printed with a message that is easy to puzzle over: “Please treasure resource and use sparingly.”
Federico Mandrile’s site is in Italian, so is more or less unreadable to most of us. I was, however, lost for some time in the contemplation of a mind that would include among a collection of this type a gallery of thirty-six, apparently identical, plain white bags.
Boulder, Colorado-based David Shomper claims that while his airsickness bag collection may not be the world’s largest, it is the world’s highest. After looking at the site, one is inclined to agree. It is one of only a few airsickness bag sites, for instance, to offer original poetry on the subject. Among Shomper-created verse is this:
This site can seem a bit confusing, very possibly because it is written in English and Japanese. But worth the visit is the multi-tasking evident in the Qantas airsickness bags, which were also plainly meant to serve as film-processing envelopes, in the days when people still used film. For instance, you could learn, while bent over with your head between your knees, that processing a role of 36 exposures cost $5.95, Australian.
This site looks like it hasn’t been updated since about 1998. I wasn’t really finding myself engaged until I came to: “The Amazing Adventures of Bob the Really Boring Barf Bag,” which is when I decided it was probably worth consideration. And I was feeling it even a little more when I got to the FAQ section and learned that the site creator doesn’t collect used airsick bags because they tend not to fit flat in albums.
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?
A study recently conducted by BobCarriesOn.com, a website that has been sharing accurate travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock, has concluded that the most expensive way to travel across America is on foot.
According to figures from BobCarriesOn, the average total expense for an economy-class cross-country flight, which takes six hours, is $451, or $.15 per mile, while a cross-country walker, taking 46 days, would spend a minimum of $6,440, or $2.15 per mile.
“What the study clearly shows,” says Bob Payne, chief analyst for BobCarriesOn.com, “is that for coast to coast travel across America only the wealthy can afford to walk.”
Figures used in the study are based on a per diem or daily allowance rate set by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to determine how much a person would be expected to spend when traveling. According to the GSA, a day away from home averages $89 for lodging and $51 for meals, or a total for the day of $140, although there is some variation to account for days in more expensive cities, or jail.
Another finding of the study, Payne said, is that if your goal is to travel across America coast to coast for the least money possible, taking the bus is your best alternative. Cost for the three-day journey is about $361 for the fare and other expenses, or $.12 per mile, although that does not count the likely possibility of being mugged on your way to or from the bus station, which will almost invariably be in the worst part of town.
“When traveling coast to coast across America, the only time you are more likely to be assaulted than you are near a bus station is going through security at an airport,” Payne said.
What it costs to travel across America coast to coast
Bus* 3 days $361 $ .14/mile
Train ** 3 days $441 $ .17/mile
Bicycle 8 days $1,120 $ .44/mile
Auto *** 60 hrs $1,880 $ .73/mile
Afoot 46 days $6,440 $ 2.51/mile
*Assumes sleeping on bus, but with one eye open.
**Assumes sleeping on train, but not, unless things go unexpectedly well, in sleeping car.
***Includes GSA mileage allowance of .58/mile; legal speed limit, mostly.
As a country, America is becoming more and more difficult for visitors to understand. Chaos. Crime. Violence. And that’s just among people running for public office. So here is a brief visitor’s guide to America that should prove helpful to anyone who wants to explore a bit of American history, do some shopping, or just get involved in road rage.
Who are the Americans?
Americans are a culturally confused people who have difficulty with the idea that anyone born in America is a Native American. Instead, they insist that the label applies only to people who complain about having sports teams named after them.
From a legal standpoint, the dumping of tea into Boston Harbor is considered to have been one of the key events in American history, as it set a precedent for the argument that as long as patriotism is evoked, water pollution is acceptable.
Native American Customs
Americans are often delighted to invite strangers into their homes. When this happens, it is considered polite to make an offer. Be aware, however, that if an American invites you into a home he himself does not seem overly familiar with, it is not the custom for guests to help carry out computers, flat-screen TV’s, and other easily disposed of household items.
Getting Around in America
America’s Gross National Product is the automobile. The most popular form of transportation, the automobile is especially esteemed by citizens who recognize the advantages of drive-by shootings.
American Food and Drink
America has two forms of food and drink: For Here and To Go. To demonstrate a more sophisticated palate, it is necessary to voice, in a condescending tone, an understanding of the difference between Tall, Grande and Venti.
Shopping in America
The most sought-after item among shoppers in America is the bargain. When considering popular bargaining practices, many experts question if the discomfort of wearing a stocking mask is worth the additional discount to which it usually entitles the customer.
The key to understanding the most popular sports in America, including American football, litigation, and road rage, is to know that much of the action takes place off the field, and sometimes involves guns.
The Arts in America
Most of the world agrees that America’s greatest cinematic achievement has been the car chase scene. They also agree that the violence often portrayed in chase scenes is a telling example of how little respect Americans actually have for their automobiles.
Looking toward the future, most visitors to America recognize that with the role seen for the U.S. in the new economy, education for American students will not need to be on par with that of students in Asia and Europe. So in that sense, American schools are thought to be performing admirably.
The American Legal System
American law is based on the concept that you are considered guilty until it is proven that someone else involved in the case has more money to go after than you do.
The Responsible Visitor to America
Among the items responsible visitors to the U.S. should not encourage the locals to sell are fur coats, historic landmarks, military secrets, and oil drilling rights in national parks.
Travel Humor Writer Bob Payne is a former member of the American Bar & Grill Association.
Bob Payne's travel news and advice since before Columbus landed at Plymouth Rock.