Modern Etiquette: Good manners travel well when commuting

Mon Nov 15, 2010 7:52am EST
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(Jo Bryant is the London-based etiquette advisor for Debrett's, Britain's modern authority on all matters of manners and behaviour. The opinions expressed are her own. Debrett's website is

By Jo Bryant

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Overcrowded subways, delayed trains, unreliable buses...the weary stoicism of the commuter is legendary. But basic good manners and respect for your fellow passengers will go some way toward making even the most torturous journey more tolerable.

Try to think about the comfort and safety of your fellow passengers with these few handy tips.

When boarding a train or a carriage on your local metro/underground/subway, wait for other passengers to exit before getting on: never jostle past people who are trying to get off.

Don't sprawl in your seat, or put dirty feet on the seat opposite. Equally, don't take up an additional seat with your excess baggage. You haven't paid for two seats.

Always offer your seat to those who need it more than you do, such as the elderly. Be gracious, willing and act swiftly when you see someone in need.

If pregnancy is in any doubt, it is best to quietly vacate your seat, move away and hope that your intended recipient will gravitate toward it. You may make a serious faux pas if you mistakenly think someone is expecting. Mothers with small children in tow should also be given priority.

Personal space is a luxury in an overcrowded carriage, so be aware of other people. Don't stand too close or push past.   Continued...

<p>Commuters walk to get a train at Kings Cross station in central London January 2, 2006. REUTERS/Paul Hackett</p>