Travelling by train with children

(97 Posts)
Bgsh Mon 31-Dec-12 11:05:20

Apologies if this topic is an old chestnut but a quick search does not show it's one that has been discussed. Travelling by train, I am happy to offer my seat to anyone who needs it more, especially anyone who is pregnant, travelling with a small child etc. What do other parents feel is courteous? My daughter, travelling wi her 9 month old daughter on a busy train did find a seat but was distressed to see others carrying babies having to stand while parents with tiny children took a seat each. As a grandma, I am aware that what is acceptable changes over time but I would be grateful to know how modern mums see this dilemma.

confuddledDOTcom Tue 01-Jan-13 23:14:45

When you ask and an elderly person gives up their priority seat whilst everyone else either stares out the window or gives you a filthy look and tuts at you, you quickly give up asking. When you get abuse from mothers with chairs and drivers for sitting in the priority seating and not allowing the mother to sit down, you learn not to ask.

When I went to Elstree with MN I was pregnant and on crutches, I did the journey from New St to Euston standing. Most of them commuters but they wouldn't let me out of the doorway let alone sit down.

I don't make a fuss about people not offering, it's not worth the hassle either way.

I don't believe anyone who's spent years on crutches or whatever and had to rely on strangers wouldn't understand how nasty people can be.

charlearose Tue 01-Jan-13 19:18:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Bgsh Tue 01-Jan-13 19:04:13

Thank you for sharing opinions and experiences and huge sympathy to all London Midland travellers. I am 65 and fit, on the odd occasion someone has offered their seat I have felt it kindly meant and accepted and I guess I think it helps in public situations if we can show care for one another although I do support the view that it is also helpful if we ask for what we need, it removes uncertainty. Thank you Mumsnet for this generous exchange.

MephistophelesSister Tue 01-Jan-13 16:44:26

IME the only people who offer seats to pregnant women or those with small children on the tube are tourists or those not originally from the UK. (For some reason East Europeans seem to be particularly generous?). Says something rather depressing about the native culture tbh.

NumericalMum Tue 01-Jan-13 15:54:17

I commute daily and if you need a seat you ask. Many times I stood when pregnant as I couldn't physically get to a seat through the crowds! Really I needed a seat most at about 7 weeks when I felt constantly ill and faint but felt I couldn't ask as I was not obviously pregnant.

kim147 Tue 01-Jan-13 15:15:36

I was coming back with my mum from boarding school. The commuter train was busy so she sat down on a suitcase.

15 minutes later the suitcase moved. She's sat on someone's lap and he'd not said anything. Then he got cramp. smile

AmberLeaf Tue 01-Jan-13 15:13:16

When I used to regularly do a long train journey with my three children, I would always book and pick our seats, always went for a 4 seater around a table as it ensured we were all sat together.

A few times I had to ask people sitting in them oblivious to the reservation tickets to please move, one time one man was sat in one seat with his briefcase in another, broadsheet spread across the table, he was most put out at my polite request, I had my numbered seat tickets in hand and he still insisted in arguing! he stood and pointed at four seats spread across the carriage that he thought me and my children should sit in!

I said 'well you have plenty of other seats to choose from then' and just stood there until he moved.

On short journeys I would always move for someone less able, my teenagers do it out of habit now too.

I really hate those people that sit next to an empty window seat and pretend they can't see the hordes of people needing a seat.

MrsSchadenfreude Tue 01-Jan-13 15:12:14

I used to commute on evil London Midland and their crap predecessor, Silverlink. Coming back from London one night on a very crowded train, sat in row of three with man in the middle with his legs wide apart, which meant that I and the woman on the other side of him were perched on about 6 inches of seat. I asked him politely to move his legs a little and was told that he was "comfortable like that." I then raised my voice and said "Please put your legs closer together - no-one's cock is that large, especially not yours." Cue laughter from the whole carriage, and he got off in embarrassment at Watford, so job done. grin

Bunbaker Tue 01-Jan-13 14:48:30

The train operators see bags on seats as a problem. When we travelled back from York we arrived at Leeds in the middle of the rush hour. The announcer asked everyone to remove bags off seats to make room for the passengers getting on the train.

It seems a shame that this announcement was deemed necessary. I would feel very guilty about keeping my bag on a seat thus making someone stand.

mummytime Tue 01-Jan-13 14:43:20

Having grown up in London a loud "excuse me" normally works for bags on seats (very embarrassing for my kids). Last summer someone gave up their seat to DH when he was about to pass out on the tube, I have also frequently had my kids sitting on each other on one spare tube seat (they needed it more than me).
Long distance if we have a seat reservation then its ours to use.

bruffin Tue 01-Jan-13 14:26:10

I dont see a problem with bags on the seats if the train is not full, but would have no problem asking to move them if there were no seats. I do have an issue with feet on the seats which happens a lot on my work train
I did get some very dirty looks for moving a newspaper to the luggage rack by some tourists on a cambridge train. That was full and dd and had to sit seperatly while my teenage ds sat on the floor. I think they thought i was stealing it or something.

TheCollieDog Tue 01-Jan-13 14:18:38

I deliberately make for seats occupied by bags/coats and ask the owner to move them. It's so irritating.

Even if there are free seats elsewhere? If there are free seats elsewhere, yes, it might be irritating but I'm not sure it's anyone else's business to "teach someone a lesson" which your policy sounds like a bit! I think there are enough posts on this (and other public transport threads) to show that sometimes people do it for ease, convenience, because they can't reach the luggage rack, or it's already crammed, or their bags won't fit. I've been in all those situations, but will move my bags if there are no other free seats. If there are other free seats, I sort of assume that other passengers will use those first. Oh, and I would always take a window seat by choice so not a "seat blocker" there!

I do remember slight grumpiness from someone on a very crowded London Midland train out of London, who had used the seat next to her for an elaborate flower decoration. I asked her to allow me to sit, and to do her justice, she did, but murmured something about her delicate parcel. I did sympathise, and said I could see her concern, but in the end, it was a free seat on a very crowded train (don't use London Midland at all if I can avoid it).

EuroShagmore Tue 01-Jan-13 13:56:47

I deliberately make for seats occupied by bags/coats and ask the owner to move them. It's so irritating.

Baby on Board badges are brilliant - there is no worry about hurting the feelings of someone overweight by offering them a seat!

TidyDancer Tue 01-Jan-13 13:54:06

I get your point as well Collie, but can't agree because of the risk of offending someone who isn't pregnant or who doesn't require a seat for other reasons. This is why long ago I took the stance that I will give up my seat if it is asked of me, and that way I won't offend anyone, but someone who needs the seat will get it. I also can't agree that it's bad manners to not offer up your seat (mainly for the above reason), but it would be bad manners if someone was in need (or in greater need) and you refused.

If someone grumped in my presence and they hadn't asked and been refused a seat, they would get the death glare. Personally, I feel that if you have the balls to huff and puff then you have them to ask a simple question. And it's why I generally give short shrift to anyone coming on here moaning about not being offered a seat.

TheCollieDog Tue 01-Jan-13 13:46:53

It might not be easy to ask for help, but you then shouldn't strop if you don't get offered a seat anyway. You should either be willing to ask or accept that you don't get a seat

I do get your point, TidyDancer really I do. In an ideal world, we should feel OK about asking for what we really need.

But I think that maybe a those of us who think that seats should offered rather than asked for were brought up with the dictum that good manners involved thinking of others, and offering before one is asked. And that consideration for others is the basis of "good manners" (which is different from etiquette rules). It is about kindness, and consideration for others.

So I do get a bit passive-aggressive huffy if I have to ask someone to do something I think -- quite mildly -- that they shouldn't have to be asked to do: like giving up a seat for someone obviously in need of it, or switching their bluddy phone to silent and keeping the noise down in the Quiet Carriage I fully admit I have a thing about being quiet in the Quiet Coach

These are things that I tend to think we shouldn't have to ask for. They should be the basis of us all sharing our space. I think that's why I get a bit grumpy.

MargeySimpson Tue 01-Jan-13 13:22:36

I agree pregancy/disability should mean that a person moves if asked. When I was pregnant I was usually okay and wasn't a 'carrying a bowling ball between the legs type' and would prefer someone with a long journey to sit!

People with kids shouldn't get seats. I don't understand OP, was was the 9month old not in a pram, if she was carrying the baby in a sling then she shouldn't expect special treatment just because my son is in a pram!

TidyDancer Tue 01-Jan-13 13:16:24

Why do you assume I don't have a disability?

You don't have to ask, but you (and not saying you actually do) lose the right to moan about not being offered when you don't get a seat.

I'm sorry you have encountered shitty people, they are everywhere, I've encountered them too. But my perspective has not changed, and will not change. If you want, you ask. Personally, I will offer my seat if someone is clearly struggling, but I don't feel that people should be made to feel bad for not offering. If they turn down a request, that is something different entirely.

confuddledDOTcom Tue 01-Jan-13 13:03:20

I think TidyDancer, you need to try being disabled for awhile, to have people trip over your sticks and blame you or picking them up (whilst you're walking) so they can get past or complaining when they walk too close and get hit by them or blanking you when you ask for help or a seat (until the old lady gives up her priority seat). Why don't I ask when I get on a bus? Because I know what happens when I do. You've seen a small part of what happens, I live it.

5madthings Tue 01-Jan-13 12:57:45

I have always just asked if i need a seat and will happily give up my seat for someone with a disability.

I travel by train with the children a lot and always book seats even for my toddler, i would give uo a seat even when booked for someone with a dusability but on the whole no i wont give uo sests i have booked and paid for even if its a seat for a toddket. Sometimes i have encounteted tutting that my toddleer is taking up a srst buy if i have paid for it and reserved the seat it is mine to use!

TidyDancer Tue 01-Jan-13 12:42:37

It might not be easy to ask for help, but you then shouldn't strop if you don't get offered a seat anyway. You should either be willing to ask or accept that you don't get a seat.

The general ask takes the personal responsibility away from anyone in particular, so you don't have to feel that it's confrontational.

ll31 Tue 01-Jan-13 12:42:26

true, but i have also while standing asked people moving to let someone standing with baby sit... and to let myself sit on ossasion when with baby...i find people are generally reasonable esp if approched nicely..and with gratitude

kim147 Tue 01-Jan-13 12:38:01

II31 Moving coats is different to asking to move yourself.

ll31 Tue 01-Jan-13 12:33:59

i dont understand people who don't ask to be honest. if bus is any way crowded i always ask people to move bag, coat etc so i can sit there on basis that that allows the more retiring people to sit on other vacant seats!

kim147 Tue 01-Jan-13 12:29:12

tidydancer It's not easy to ask for help. I think it requires a good degree of confidence and assertiveness that many people just don't want to show.

Mind you -

"A general ask of "would anyone mind letting me sit down? I'm pregnant/ill/disabled/elderly" generally gets you a seat."

Should provoke someone into feeling guilty and standing up. But it's just not the kind of thing people do. We're very much accustomed to accepting things and not being assertive to make changes - very much a theme of other threads on here about relationships and with inlaws / parents etc.

TidyDancer Tue 01-Jan-13 12:25:30

Ah you see, I have seen strops at not being offered. And I have countered with "why don't you ask for one?". There's never an answer for that, just an embarrassed fluster because the tantrummer doesn't have anything reasonable to come back with.

TheCollieDog, you get around accidentally asking someone with an invisible disability by not asking anyone specific. A general ask of "would anyone mind letting me sit down? I'm pregnant/ill/disabled/elderly" generally gets you a seat.

Of course there will always be selfish people who won't give up a seat under any circumstances whatsoever, but the likelihood at getting an entire carriage full of them is slim.

I just don't have any sympathy where people get huffy yet won't actually open their mouths and ask for what they want.

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