Since the last article I wrote on the London Underground was very popular – I thought it would be a good opportunity to revisit the subject. This time, I’m going to focus on some etiquette tips so that you don’t make a pillock of yourself on the The Tube.
1. No talking
Never talk to anyone other than in your own party and even that will be frowned upon, if you must, do so quietly. The Tube is not really a place to try to pick up a lady. People live in their own personal bubbles when they ride the Tube and Londoners prefer it that way. Many like to read so don’t disturb their quality reading time.
2. Give up your seat for an old or pregnant woman
If you see a pregnant woman or a woman wearing a ‘I’m Pregnant’ pin, do the honorable thing and give them your seat. This was a lifesaver for my wife when she traveled the underground network while she was pregnant. The same goes for an elderly or disabled person.
Hell, even if you want to be a gentleman, give up your seat for any lady (even if she’s not attractive).
Just don’t try to talk to her after you do.
3. Though it is quite tempting, don’t read over other people’s shoulders
One of my favorite things about traveling on the Tube is you get an idea of what’s popular reading with Londoners. That said, don’t be tempted to read over anyone’s shoulders – people can feel your eyes on their stuff and it will make them uncomfortable. It’s especially tempting if they’re reading the newspapers (most especially Page 3 of the Sun).
4. Let passengers off the train before trying to get on
I know you’re excited to get on the Tube – but please let people get off first before you try to get on. You won’t miss the train and if you do – there will be another one in a few minutes. This gets a little tricky when the train is really busy but try to keep in mind that everyone is trying to get where they’re going. A little courtesy goes a long way.
5. Your bag or suitcase is not entitled to a seat, especially if the train is crowded
This is a biggie. In Chicago (where Londontopia.net is based) it’s pretty common to avoid getting to close to your fellow passenger by using your bag as a seat partner deterrent. Do not do this on the Tube. The Tube is overcrowded and most people have to stand so if you take up a seat with yourself and another seat with your bag – expect steely stares. If you insist on riding the Tube during rush hour with all your luggage – stick to the back of the cabin where there’s room for luggage.
6. Watch out for pickpockets
Pickpockets are everywhere in London but they particularly love Tube stations because they’re loud and noisy and its easy to pick pockets in all the confusion. Keep your valuables in difficult to access places (for thieves that is).
7. Stand on the Right on Escalators
You’ll be reminded of this on every escalator but it bears repeating here – always stand on the right on the escalators. People who are in a bigger hurry than you will speed past you on the left. Best not to get in the way. If you do – you may get a courteous ”Scuse me Love” or a not so courteous “get out of the way.”
8. Wear Deodorant or Cologne. Please.
The Tube is hot and crowded in the summer. The network is 150 years old and was not designed for air conditioning. It gets hot in the fall and the spring too. No one wants to stand in a crowded Tube car or platform near someone who smells. So, wear some odor protection. But don’t overdo it!
9. Have your Oyster Card or Ticket Ready
The novelty of going through a Tube station can be confusing to new travelers in London. That confusion causes much delays for fellow passengers. Always have your ticket or Oyster Card ready when going through the ticket gates. That includes going in the station and out of the station. You have to have a valid ticket to get out – so never throw your ticket away and always have it ready.
10. Don’t Eat on the Train
When surveyed about annoying Tube Habits, Londoners said this was the one that bothered them the most: eating smelling food anywhere on the network. Your lunch or dinner is not a shared experience so avoid turning anyone’s stomach by not eating anywhere on the network unless it’s in a train station in a restaurant.
Did we leave something out? Leave your favorite Tube Etiquette tips in the comments below!
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