No, just no. I know that language evolves, but sometimes it degenerates in confusing ways. Would you believe “rawdogging” has acquired a new meaning? I know what it used to mean, but now it’s something very different, entirely harmless, and actually rather effete.

A 26-year-old Londoner named West (who asked to use only his first name) went viral in May when he posted about his decision to forgo any entertainment and pass a seven-hour trip watching the flight map. “Anyone else bareback flights?” he asked in the caption.

The concept—referred to in a vivid and perhaps unfortunate parlance as “rawdogging,” “flying raw,” and “bareback”—resonated with many in the comments on West’s TikTok page, @WestWasHere. “Yup, from London to Miami this week…pure bareback no food or water,” one wrote. “I swear barebacking flights make it go quicker,” another added.

“I’ve got DMs on Instagram like, ‘Bro, you need to teach us how to bareback flights,’” West tells GQ.

This has got to be a joke. You need to be taught how to sit quietly doing nothing on a flight?

But West and others have also come to see rawdogging flights as a kind of challenge, like the Tough Mudder or No Nut November, the goal being to see how fully participants can deprive themselves of creature comforts, up to and including free snack and drinks and even bathroom visits. A true rawdogger takes no indulgences.

Wait…I usually take the cheapest flight I can get, with few entertainment options, and since the pandemic I don’t take my mask off for the entire flight. I’m a rawdogger now? I thought I just wanted to avoid catching a disease.


  1. cartomancer says

    To be honest sex with me is rather like a tedious plane journey, so I can see the relevance.

  2. robro says

    Like Bob Newhart, I’m a long time white knuckle flyer. I never watch the movie. They don’t interest me very much anyway and the typical airline fair is usually atrocious. The movie just contributes to my nervousness. No problem skipping that. As a fairly large human, I can’t sleep on the torture racks they call seating. I don’t drink other than a sip or two of water. I had something called wine once but that was a mistake…I won’t go into details. I do snacks…I would hate to die on an empty stomach…but in this day a “snack” consists of a few begrudged nuts.

  3. KG says

    I go even further than the “rawdoggers”, dispensing with the aircraft and limiting myself to surface travel.

  4. says

    @#2 robro
    I’m right there with you. It’s been literal decades since I’ve flown, and those flights were spend staring at the wing out the window. I’m not scared of flying, but I get easily disoriented which then causes a great deal of motion sickness or vertigo. I won’t get on another plane unless it is an absolutely, 100%, no way out, life or death situation. I don’t have anywhere that I NEED to be that I can’t drive, which I enjoy quite a bit.

  5. says

    Haven’t flown since I was a little kid. Don’t remember a lick of it, but my parents told me I was nervous as hell. Given Boeing’s corner-cutting shenanigans and my knowledge that airlines are essentially banks that fly airplanes as a side hustle, I don’t think that’s going to change.

  6. drew says

    The last time I remember that happening, some conservatives took the name of a sexual act and then twisted it into something truly vile to describe themselves. Teabaggers . . . disgusting!

  7. Andrew Dalke says

    That’s portrayed in a scene in the Seinfield episode “The Butter Shave” from 1997, starting at https://youtu.be/qi__sXURLuo?t=140 . Elaine’s boyfriend plans to just stare at the seat in front of him for the flight back from Oslo, which irritates her.

  8. says

    This has got to be the absolutely LAMEST re-use of “rawdogging,” “flying raw,” and “bareback” ever. Not to mention a really stupid and pointless thing to brag about. WHO CARES if you refuse to drink free water or take a leak during a long flight? You’d only be harming yourself, if only a tiny bit, for no benefit to anyone (unless there’s a shortage of bottled water on your flight and someone else needs it more than you do?). And what great record-setting achievement would you have to brag about?

    “Dude, that long all-night flight totally sucked, but I totally refused to do anything to make it suck even a tiny bit less! And now I feel even worse than I otherwise would have!”
    “Cool story, bro!”
    “Dude, get me to a pub and I’ll try to remember what the point was…”

  9. billseymour says

    Like KG @3, if there’s some place I need to go in the “lower 48”, I’ll take Amtrak, in a sleeper if it’s an overnight trip.

    But there’s no way to take a train across an ocean, so I necessarily fly to some meetings that I attend in Hawaiʻi or Europe; and I’m fortunate that I’m able to afford business class fares if I don’t try to afford other stuff that I don’t really want that much anyway.  Like others, my entertainment is watching the GPS display or reading a book.

    My next trip in November will be Amtrak from St. Louis to Boston, Icelandair to Frankfurt, trains to Berlin where I’ll attend a three-day conference, a train to Wrocław, Poland for a six-day ISO standards committee meeting and a one-day conference the following week, trains back to Frankfurt, and Icelandair and Amtrak back home.

    All the Amtrak stations where I’ll be changing trains have redcap and checked-baggage service, and I’ll get wheelchair assistance in all airports.  Changing trains in Europe will be a problem; and the trains don’t have checked baggage.  We’ll see how it goes.  That might be my last such trip.

  10. numerobis says

    I would never do this. Instead, I watch the movies that other people are watching, on their screens. You can easily collect half a dozen Hollywood movies in a flight like that. Sure you only see a few shots here and there but that’s normally plenty enough to have a conversation about the movie.

  11. Ridana says

    These guys sound like the semen retention lunatics, who think fapping robs them of their masculine essence, which would explain their appropriation of sexual slang to make themselves sound edgy and cool. I would not be surprised if this non-activity has few or no female practitioners.

    I used to really enjoy flying, for the free entertainment of seeing the world and the clouds out the tiny windows, and watching the wings do their thing on take-off and landing. Sometimes the people were interesting and not obnoxious. I loved the ambiance of airports and once in a great while would go to one even if I wasn’t flying, to people watch, peruse the art installations at leisure without worrying about if I was going to miss a flight, watch the planes coming and going from the observation deck, or hang out at the bar, nursing an insanely overpriced drink, and chatting up the actual fliers who all had stories about where and why they were flying.

    I know it’s weird, but it was a pleasant travel-adjacent activity that required little time, effort or money. The terrorists, by which I mean the TSA, took that away from me, and I haven’t flown or been in an airport for over 20 years. I miss it.

  12. KG says

    When I was employed, I did sometimes have to fly – my last ever flights were from the UK to Majorca and back in 2012. My last non-work flights were I think in 1992. I’d fly in an emergency, but there’s a lot of places I’d like to visit but now almost certainly never will.

  13. says

    numerobis @10: For me, that would most likely consist of pointing at a violent scene and saying “Now we see the violence inherent in the system!”

  14. beholder says

    A true rawdogger takes no indulgences.

    Other than, y’know, air travel, in addition to a pressurized cabin and relatively comfortable seating, with a toilet in the back.

    I, for one, would like to read about a stowaway in the landing gear who was trying to get the no-frills rawdogging experience.

  15. John Morales says

    beholder, most people can distinguish between indulgences and necessities.

    If they could, they would probably sit on the floor; it’s performative, after all.

    Also, as per the OP, “up to and including free snack and drinks and even bathroom visits”.

    “Bathroom” meaning ‘toilet’, for non-USAnians.

    I, for one, would like to read about a stowaway in the landing gear who was trying to get the no-frills rawdogging experience.

    Well, plenty of stories. Mostly, we don’t know their motives.

    (A bit on the nose, that comment)

  16. beholder says

    Well, okay. Not so much “like to read about” as a morbid fascination. You know, like the kind people get reading the Darwin awards. (In case anyone hasn’t figured it out, don’t stow away in a wheel well. It’s a bad idea.)

    Well, plenty of stories. Mostly, we don’t know their motives.

    Pure desperation, probably.

  17. John Morales says

    beholder, ah, I appreciate the person-to-person response.

    Well, okay. Not so much “like to read about” as a morbid fascination.

    Fair enough. Still, it gets disturbing, if you are like me. I’ve read reports.

    (Worse when one has a decent imagination)

    Pure desperation, probably.

    That’s the base motive.
    The problematic part is the naive ignorance of the rigors of such an undertaking, and of the history of such undertakings.

    (My basic vibe is that the incidence has not increased over time, which is arguably good, no?)

  18. John Morales says


    Regarding the Darwin awards, it is a common misunderstanding that all it entails is the preclusion of someone who has not yet bred from the gene pool. Staying dry!

    A joke in bad taste, I gotta concede, which PZ has repudiated ere now– but which still amuses me somewhat, though not directly or crudely.

    But yes, I do get it, even if I’m merely amused and bemused.

    (Obs, a vasectomy without first having had sex or one’s seminal ejaculation frozen qualifies)

  19. Kagehi says

    People like this drive me nuts – “The airlines have been, for decades, degrading the quality of everything from flights to the food on them, to save money, and sell more and more cheaper tickets, to the detriment of every passenger. I know! Instead of trying to figure out how to reverse this trend lets volunteer to have an even shittier experience and encourage a further decline in quality!!” Mind, at least one airline does this, basically making you pay for every single thing as a perk, which lets you “opt out” of literally every single perk – most people falsely perceive said airline as “cheating its customers” and “a scammer”, despite the fact that buying into all those perks merely puts your ticket at the level of, “Exactly the same price as everyone else.” So, yeah, if the airline allows it, and you understand why they allow it (or at least are willing to put up with not getting anything to save a few bucks), great… But, making it out as some sort of great adventure, which makes you super special, instead of, “Just not an idiot that thinks they are being cheated somehow.”…

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