When it comes to the distance between your nose and the mini TV screen on the back of the headrest in front of you, how close is too close for comfort? 8 inches? 5 inches? 3 inches?

For a long time now, airlines have been reducing the spaces between seats, as they slowly increase seat density onboard. The average flight now has 142 seats, compared to 137 two years ago. And it is not just your leg room that is shrinking. It is not just the bathroom stalls and the windows that are getting skinnier. You are losing headroom, too.

“Psychologists say the eye-level squeeze is a big reason travelers are feeling more anxious on densely packed planes,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

Just like cramming onto a crowded bus or subway car can be stressful, squeezing into a constrictive airplane seat can be incredibly uncomfortable.

Claustrophobia, anxiety, air rage, are all increasingly real risk factors as personal space on airplanes shrinks. Some airlines, like Boeing, are employing engineers to try to optimize personal comfort.

Read more about their efforts here.

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