If you've ever flown before, you know that you can find your airline's safety manual and inflight meal information in your seatback pocket (which also happens to be the dirtiest spot in your airplane seat). And if you're lucky, you might find a barf bag. Created in 1949 by inventor Gilmore T. Schjeldahl, they were once an airline essential. Schjeldahl's innovation was revolutionary because he lined the bag with plastic, which prevented leaks. Schjeldahl's barf bag, however, was designed not for the purpose it's used now but for keeping food fresh.
Air sickness has been around since commercial flying was introduced in the 1920s. Before Schjeldahl's barf bag came along, Slate states that airlines used everything from paper bags to bowls or cups for those who suffered from this malady. If you're unfamiliar with air sickness, this is essentially the same as motion sickness. Symptoms include headache, dizziness, loss of appetite, and nausea, amongst other unpleasantries.
Besides their most obvious use, barf bags were, at one point, utilized by Spirit Airlines for advertising purposes. Nevertheless, barf bags have become a rarity in the past few years. But why? It appears that it all comes down to technology and money.