I guess with rising fuel prices, the cost of running a commercial airline is continuing to go through the roof. They could start increasing their fares to reflect this additional expense (and many already do by tacking on fuel surcharges and whatnot), or alternatively, you could try to cram as many people as you can on the same sized plane and keep ticket prices right where they are.
That’s the thinking behind the latest concept from Airbus Industries that does away with conventional seating altogether, and places passengers in a “standing room only” configuration. This saves airlines an extra five inches or more per row compared to full-on seats (we have already lost an average of three inches since 1978, thanks to thinner seat materials and cramming the rows closer together). The editors at Gizmodo have commented that this new concept resembles “a morgue, or packing [the passengers] onto layered plank-bunks reminiscent of 17th century slave ships.”
Of course, if you can afford to fly first class all the time, you’ll still enjoy your ample elbow room, leg room, Dom Perignon and lobster tail, while the rest of us try to digest the standard airline fare with each person two inches away from the next. You’d just better hope the guy behind you doesn’t toss his cookies.