sick bag

Airsickness bag

An airsickness bag (also known as a barf bag, airsick bag, sick bag, or motion sickness bag) is a bag commonly provided to passengers onboard airplanes and boats to collect and contain vomit in the case of motion sickness. Hovercraft-ferry operators and even train companies have also been known to supply bags. Pregnant women with morning sickness and travelers who know they are prone to motion sickness will sometimes bring their own bags.

The plastic-lined airsickness bag was created by inventor Gilmore Schjeldahl for Northwest Orient Airlines in 1949. Previously bags had been made from waxed paper or card. Modern bags are still mainly made from plastic-lined paper but a significant proportion (mainly from Latin America) are made completely out of plastic.


Amongst the collectors of aeronautical memorabilia there is a sub-culture of sickness-bag aficionados. The Guinness Book Of Records recognises Dutchman Niek Vermeulen as the world record holder for the number of different bags (5006 as of 5 Sept 2006).

Recent financial constraints on airlines have led to many carriers saving unnecessary expense, for some it has been the withdrawal of garnish on a meal while others have opted for generic or plain white bags. Recognising the collectible aspect of bags, in 2005 Virgin Atlantic issued limited edition sets; one with 20 bags known as "Design for Chunks" from a competition run by a Swedish graphic design web-site and another with 4 bags promoting the Star Wars movie Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Alternative uses

The development of larger aircraft and advances in design have reduced the occurrence of air sickness. This has led to bags being given a secondary use as general purpose waterproof waste containers which is often reflected in the labelling of the bag and instructional diagrams. Another common use is that of photographic mailing envelope (especially Australia). Airlines have also printed bags to serve as card game scoresheets and Continental Airlines once suggested that they be used as doggy bags for airline food.

Some airlines have exhibited a certain sense of humor in designing their airsickness bags. For a brief time, for example, the German carrier Hapag-Lloyd Express (now TUIfly) had bags that had stated "Thank you for your criticism!".

See also

External links

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