Simple Airsickness Bag Hack Lets You Create Your Own In-Flight Entertainment

If you're a queasy flyer, one of the first things you probably do when getting to your airplane seat is making sure you have a barf bag in the pocket in front of you. The second is probably popping a couple of Gravol pills and hoping for the best, but we digress. If you're not prone to motion sickness on flights (we're jelly), you might not even care if your seat is equipped with that little white paper bag. We hope you're sitting down in your (airplane) seat because there is a new use for your airsickness bag, and it has nothing to do with losing your lunch.

These days, flyers are using their own smartphones, tablets, or laptops to stream their favorite shows, movies, or sports events, eschewing in-flight entertainment. But watching Netflix on your phone can be cumbersome if your smartphone case can't stand sturdy on your tray table. Plus, who wants to hold their phone up at eye level for a six-hour cross-country flight? Enter the barf bag: Yes, there is a new creative smartphone hack where you use the barf bag as a phone mount, and it is taking TikTok by storm. 

The airsick bag could be your new phone mount

TikTok has discovered an ingenious DIY hack for keeping your smartphone mounted and at eye level when on a flight, and you don't need any fancy equipment — just the airsickness bag. As demonstrated by user @dropdeadthreads, you take your phone out of its case, place the airsick bag between the phone and the case, then snap the case back on, trapping the bag between the two. With the extra paper sticking out, trap the bag between the tray table when it's in the upright and locked position, and Voilà!

The bag acts as a mount, and the phone dangles perfectly and securely at eye level. This hack has become so popular it has been shared by several users, including influencer @katamogz, who shared it with her over 2.5 million followers. It's even migrated to Twitter, where finance expert Effie Zahos shared a pic of the hack, writing, "And I thought vomit bags were just for vomiting in [...] No need to buy fancy phone stands ... the old vomit bag does the job."

Before you attempt this hack, thoroughly inspect your tray table and seat back because, as one TikTok user pointed out, some airlines have already outfitted the seatbacks with phone mounts built into the design. There is an entire sub-thread on Reddit after a user shared a picture of a United Airlines iPad and phone holder built into the Boeing 777 seats.

In-flight entertainment is becoming obsolete

So why is this DIY hack so necessary these days? It turns out it's all due to in-flight entertainment (IFE) and the lack thereof. Back in the day, you would've seen a screen drop from the bulkhead in front of you to view pre-selected movies. Then, the screens appeared on the seatbacks in front of you. Eventually, the screens became interactive, and each flyer could choose their own entertainment personally.

However, because of the changing times (and also economic reasons), many major airlines are doing away with IFE altogether. American Airlines, United Airlines, and Alaska Air started to remove all screens from selected fleets in 2019 (via Forbes), and experts agreed it was the right move. The New York Times reported each seat screen could cost $10,000, so travel industry analyst Henry Harteveldt told the outlet removing them was just a cost-effective no-brainer, especially since their removal reduces the weight of the plane's weight.

It turns out IFE is just obsolete, so says Peter Ingram, chief commercial officer of Hawaiian Airlines. "The majority of people are showing up with a device of their own, and they're ignoring the devices we offer in-seat," he told The New York Times, explaining why their new A321 fleet wouldn't have any screens. So it would seem if you want to watch a movie on a flight, this barf bag hack isn't just fun; it's also necessary.