Every year airlines seek to improve profits, minimise costs and provide a better return for investors and shareholders. In a time when long haul airlines needs to squeeze everything out of every airline seat we are seeing the squeeze of that seat becoming more prevalent.

Talk about rubbing shoulders with strangers, it is getting a bit too personal when flying, especially if your co-passenger forgot to put his or her deodorant on or hasn't washed their clothes in six months. Along with the diminishing seat size, the armrests and aisles are being trimmed down as well. Maybe the new accessory for flying will be elbow pads for everyone in an aisle seat, to protect you from the meal/drink trolleys. Surely there are health and safety issues that need to be considered or are the airlines prepared to foot the bill for a lot of smashed into elbows and for those with long legs, a foot or two might be injured along the way.

So, with my shoulders being 15 inches wide and I am not a big person by any means, at least there will be two inches, one on either side to spare in my seat. Of course, that is providing the person that sits beside me does not encroach into my personal seat allocation space with his or her bigger shoulders. I am wondering if shoulders are going to be the next thing to be measured before you get onto a plane. Can the airlines start weighing people as well? Oops, sorry, you will have to buy two seats because your shoulders or your backside are too wide to fit into one. Now, that would increase the revenue for the airlines in a more comfortable fashion for its travellers. Small people can then be rest assured that their seat is theirs and they don't have to "share" their seat with the larger person beside them. It wont just be a case of rubbing shoulders, it will be rubbing backsides as well.

Firstly the airlines encouraged all the airplane etiquette challenged passengers to jump on their planes with the lure of cheap international seats. Now, not content with the flying cattle class profit margin, they are endeavouring to lure back the cashed up person with the temptation of "premium" economy and business class flat beds on long haul flights. Correct me if I am wrong but haven't they just redefined the good old economy, business and first class seat definitions by slipping in "premium economy". So with three "premium" areas that require more space, it is being taken from the cheapo area in the back of the plane.

The plane makers are not taking the blame for this development as they state that they only design the planes and the individual airlines decide their own interior configuration. In fact the plane makers busily come up with passenger comforts that cannot be altered by the airlines such as larger windows, so they are claiming "good guy" status.

One airline spokes person claims that so long as passengers are fed and have electronic gadgets to play with or movies to watch, people are happy. Which is probably the truth in most cases.

As a UK based budget airline once muted, I am waiting for an airline to introduce "stand up" class with a harness attached to the roof. Just imagine a plane where people could have a choice of luxuriating in a comfortable armchair size seat, lying down on a flat bed, sitting up squashed in like sardines or hanging from the roof like bats with no seat. To top it off, the width of your shoulders and your weight/size determine the price that you pay for your flight.

Gail Palethorpe, a self proclaimed Australian gypsy, is a freelance writer, photographer and eternal traveller.  Check out her website Gail Palethorpe Photography and her Shutterstock profile.