Epilogue: Airline Barf Bags (Still) Make Me Sick

Source: Air Sickness Bag Virtual Museum

[Before reading, please check out the first post I wrote about a year ago – Airline Barf Bags Make Me Sick.]

I can’t believe it happened again. What is it about international flights with a South-East Asian destination that causes our two children to excrete bodily fluids in unpleasant yet spectacular ways?

This time it was ID’s turn to put an airline sick bag to test. He waited until half way through the flight, and then after he had a full stomach he enthusiastically emptied its contents into a paper bag 10 kilometres above the ground.

Wise from history, however, we were prepared. We sat him up straight and pushed his head forward into the sick bag that we had pre-opened for his convenience. This time the only other collateral damage was his T-shirt. We were calm. We remained relatively clean. No other passengers visibly gagged.  What a relief.

Despite one year passing since the original “unpleasantness” I can confirm that the designer of airline sick bags still doesn’t actually test them prior to manufacture. They still can only be opened by tearing along a near-invisible perforation, and they still have a tendency to rip down the side rendering them useless for their intended purpose.

This is why we now have a new family ritual. Each time we are initially seated on a flight we carefully open all the sick bags in the pockets in front of our seats. Our fellow passengers must think we’re about to perform a magic trick, or perhaps make our own in-flight popcorn. Later they’ll only wish it was so.

So, there you have it. A moderately absurd year sandwiched by high-altitude vomit. I’ll leave you with one final thought to chew over, and perhaps regurgitate at some unexpected time in the future: Airline barf bags… they still make me sick.

Barf Bag

Airline Barf Bags Make Me Sick

Barf Bag

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.