Shrinking space on airplanes might also be dangerous.
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"In a world where animals have more rights to space and food than humans," Leocha said, "it is time that the DOT and FAA take a stand for humane treatment of passengers."
Fliers last summer squeezed into the least amount of personal space in the history of flying. In July, U.S. airlines sold a record 87.8 percent of seats on domestic flights, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statics. And that figure does not include all the seats occupied by passengers who redeemed frequent flier miles or airline employees flying for free.
"Unfortunately, the days of the empty middle seat are a thing of the past," said Julie Frederick, a representative for the American Airlines flight attendants union.
Following the implementation of checked-bag fees in 2008, Frederick said, more and more passengers are carrying on bags, fighting for overhead bin space. That anger carries over through the flight as passengers bump elbows on armrests and bang their knees against tray tables. She said there are more cases of air rage, many of which go unreported.
Questions were also raised if the increased density of seats means passengers won't be able to evacuate fast enough after a crash.