The design concepts employed in airline vomit bags these days makes me sick. Do they ever actually test them? Once a prototype has been developed, does the design lead chug half a bottle of vodka and then try to successfully deploy the bag? I think not.
The reason why I make this assertion with such confidence is that, after almost 20 years of uneventful flying experience, I actually had to use one on our flight to Kuala Lumpur. Our 2 year old, H, managed the impressive and alarming feat of suddenly vomiting while sleeping in his mother’s arms.
Please allow me to just take a moment to describe the nature of this vomit. It was not projectile. It was not unidirectional. Instead it was like a slow spring bubbling up from the foot of a hill and flowing to lower ground in any direction gravity would take it. This would’ve made it quite hard to direct the flow from the mouth into a sick bag. Notice that I speak hypothetically.
To the distinctive ambiance of gasping passengers (some gagging) and screaming children (some gagging) I attempted to separate the sides of the bag by blowing from the top, and once that failed subsequently by pinching the bag between my fingers. It would not open. Strange. And annoying. After several moments of pure panic, I finally realised that the top was indeed sealed, and that the user was required to tear along a near-invisible perforation in order to open the bag.
The first bag ripped across the top and all of the way down the side rendering it useless. The second bag ripped across the middle, leaving the bottom half as a semi-usable vomit receptacle. I held it up to the mouth of the vomiting 2 year old, by which time the flow had all but stopped.
Once the airline staff decided that they actually would try to help by providing some facecloths, we wiped the vomit out of his hair, face and neck as best we could, and thew his clothes, a pillow, 2 airline blankets and about a dozen face towels in a plastic bag which we then sealed. We asked the hostess to collect it but she wisely refused, leaving it at the feet our our seat – a proud marker to the exact location of the inconsiderate vomiting passengers that had stunk out the plane.
The silver lining? Never has a shower at a transit hotel felt so good.