Tag Archives: underground

Do you know what to do in a 3-seat, 4-armrest situation?

Please can someone explain to me what is wrong with people? Save for the occasional rant on this blog, I’m a very easy-going sort, but a recent flight to New York stuck in-between two people with atrocious armrest etiquette really made my blood boil. I know there are no stated rules about sharing an armrest, but isn’t that because it is so obvious?

Every day on trains, planes and most noticeably for me on the London Underground, there are a surprisingly large number of selfish morons who believe armrests belong solely to them and are not to be shared equally 50:50 with the passenger adjacent. I really do not understand why people find it so hard to be considerate? It is a simple acknowledgement to another human being that they have a right to the same amount of space and comfort as you.


If no one is sitting in the seat next to you, then you are perfectly welcome to use all of the armrest. However, if someone sits down, then it is your duty to share it equally. So many times you end up having to ‘mark your territory’ (not literally of course, although I think it would guarantee you getting all the space you wanted) and gently knock the person’s arm to remind them. We don’t want to speak to someone to remind them, we shouldn’t have to. Having to mark your territory once can be forgiven, but having to repeatedly is tantamount to a silent war.

My recent New York flight was made doubly worse as the inconsiderate armrest users were actually a married couple(!) who didn’t want to sit next to each other as each wanted an aisle seat. This isn’t terrible I guess, except they spent most of the journey talking across me and passing food and rubbish to each other. At one point, they were both asleep, each faced towards me, hogging the armrests and with their legs encroaching into my foot-well area. It was at this moment of anger and frustration, I realised that the 50:50 share rule does not strictly apply.

In a 3-seat, 4-armrest situation, the actual fair thing is to let the person in the middle seat have two-thirds of both armrests available to them. The people on the left and right each have a whole armrest to themselves and so by only taking a third of the other, all three people get an equal one and a third armrest access.

Above all, we should all just be considerate and give each other our fair space … make it happen folks.

Jake McMillan

London Underground Etiquette

Some people mistakenly believe they are sitting comfortably on the London Underground, but in actual fact they are in a war-zone, with hundreds of silent battles in progress where even millimetres of territory are fought for. Why are so many people on the tube so inconsiderate?!

Even though they may be little acts of consideration, they are significant and important to us. For example, take arm rests (one of my personal bug bears), these are to be shared between TWO people and not to be monopolised by one person. It’s not rocket science and you don’t need a manual to figure this out, it is just good manners.

Then there are those men who must have elephant-sized testicles as the insist on sitting with their legs spread as wide as they can and don’t seem to care that they are taking up more space than they have been allotted or that they are touching the person next to them? I know there is not a massive amount of space, but in a big city of millions of people surely we have to be considerate to each other?

I am sure you will have experienced a crowded platform, the doors open, lots of people get off and then the first person gets on the carriage and just stops, instantly forgetting the 80 people behind also waiting to get on?! Or those people who try to get on whilst others are getting off. If we are not careful we will end up with the Paris model where it is accepted to just push each other out of the way getting on and off the train. This is hardly what I think is acceptable behaviour for modern civilised society!

Don’t get the impression I am a perfect tube gentleman, I am guilty, like we all have done, of forgetting my surroundings. I have been so absorbed in my pocket PC and ipod that I have not noticed someone needing a seat more than me. The person sitting next to me then offered their seat which is when I looked up to see 8 or so faces looking at me disapprovingly.

I have also been one of those annoying people with a big rucksack who has no awareness of bumping into others. My girlfriend once had to point out I was bumping into a man sitting down and being quite an apologetic person I swung round to say sorry and took out the woman sitting on the other side!

We all seem to, and I am not sure if there is actually a rule against this, collectively frown upon those eating fast food on the underground. What about those people with the worst earphones in the world? Or those who reach behind two people to grab one of those free newspapers?

None of us are perfect, but surely we can do better at showing a bit more consideration to our fellow 7 million Londoners. And if we do
fall short from time to time, not to bite the head off someone who kindly and politely points out an indiscretion. I promise I won’t bite your head off, but I still might accidentally hit you with a ruck sack.

Jake McMillan