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.

manicbmc Mon 31-Dec-12 11:09:12

People are dicks. I saw a man carrying a year old child and commandeering his 4 year old to their reserved seats which others had sat in and they argued like hell because there were no reservation tickets because there had been a printer problem. I felt really sorry for him. The people did move eventually. But they should have done so anyway.

kim147 Mon 31-Dec-12 11:10:44

I can't believe parents with babies or young children have to stand. DS and I were on a busy train yesterday. He sat on my lap as it was busy - no effort to me or him.

And if someone who was struggling was there, I would expect both of us to stand.

My friend and I were left standing on a train over the summer.

She was on a set of crutches, I had a walking stick, and my 5yo was with us.

Everyone just pretended not to notice. People can be idiots on public transport.

atthewelles Mon 31-Dec-12 11:19:19

I think people have got very rude about not offering seats on public transport - particularly school children who never ever seem to stand up for elderly or pregnant people. It also really annoys me when parents won't take a small child on their lap so that someone else can have a seat. Sometimes you see parents with two small children who could free up two seats for elderly people standing but just don't bother to do so. Very rude and inconsiderate.

manicbmc Mon 31-Dec-12 11:20:56

The worst ones, I find, are those in their 20s-40s who take up a seat with their handbag and then ignore anyone if the bus/train is full. Mainly women do this.

TotallyBS Mon 31-Dec-12 11:21:20

The 'norm' where I live (North London) is that seats get given up for pregnant women, women with babies or toddlers and senior citizens. The whole carriage doesn't exactly leap up to offer their seat but someone inevitably does.

Having said that, baby holding moms usually travel with a push chair and rather than fold/unfold they stick close to the door.

HollyBerryBush Mon 31-Dec-12 11:24:18

A price to be paid for 'equality' - I (female) have been snarled at for offering an apparently pregnant woman a seat on the tube. I've seen men have their heads bitten off when being chivalrous and offering a lady a sea on a packed train.

Common courtesy would dictate you offer a seat to someone in need, male or female, young or elderly - but I can fully understand why people don't. Manners are very much lacking today

Svrider Mon 31-Dec-12 11:25:27

It can work the other way too
I was blush when a young disabled chap, in obvious pain insisted on standing for my 4yo, who can easily stand

EmpressOfThePuddle Mon 31-Dec-12 11:26:11

I ask people with bags on seats / people sitting in aisle seats with the window seat free if I can sit.

They might glare at me but they've never said no.

FestiveElement Mon 31-Dec-12 11:28:43

I think this is a really difficult one because there are many legitimate reasons that someone might not offer a seat that cannot be seen easily.

Of course it would be nice if people were more considerate towards people who are obviously struggling, and if people don't have a genuine reason for needing their seat then they should give it up to someone who does need it. The problem comes when we leave people to decide what their genuine reasons are.

To some, a genuine reason may be that they have been at work all day and are knackered.

I think train companies need to put their priority seating stickers on more than one or two seats per carriage so that the rules are clear as to who is more entitled to a seat.

Binkybix Mon 31-Dec-12 11:29:03

I always ask someone whose bag is taking up a seat to move it!

I thought I would balance this by saying that we were on a v busy train, sitting on a group of 4 around a table, opposite some teenage boys in a larger group. The second one of them saw an elderly couple walking past and standing further along, and he went out of his way to follow him and give up his seat, and ensure his friends did too. He called him 'sir' too. Made me well up in my crazy or moral pregnant state.

Later, more people got on and more of the boys (and my DH) gave up seats, so they're not all bad.

noblegiraffe Mon 31-Dec-12 11:33:49

I was ignored by a trainful of passengers when I was pregnant and carrying a toddler. So I sat in First Class for free, where there was plenty of room.

RugBugsWearingLittleSantaHats Mon 31-Dec-12 11:37:46

I travel between London and a NW city quite often and I never travel without seat reservations for all of us.
DD is two but she's always had a seat purchased for her, if the train is hideously busy the buggy/luggage is piled onto it.
Our last journey earlier this month a young couple got the hump when we asked them to move from our reserved seat, we had three across a table and they wanted us to give up one of our reservations for them.

I've never had one single person give up a priority seat on a southern train, I invariable have to stand with the buggy/sleeping baby in the door area and get in everyone else's way

LadyKinbote Mon 31-Dec-12 11:47:46

I think most people are decent and offer a seat if it's fairly obvious you need one but occasionally I've asked politely "could I have a seat please?" and have only once been refused. I ask on other people's behalf as well.

LadyKinbote Mon 31-Dec-12 11:48:55

Just realised I'm talking about the tube rather than the train which may have different etiquette!

I'm always shock. at this. once when pregnant on a bus, an elderly man asked a young lad to give his seat for me- the boy remarked quite nastily- 'she got her self knocked up- its not mine, not my problem mate', the older man then rose to give me his own seat, hitting the lad over the head with his walking stick, accidentally of coursesmile , the remaining passengers applaudedgrin it was very amusing all in all. (the young lad got off at the next stop, so why he made such a fuss is beyond me)

ItsALongWayToPickAWilly Mon 31-Dec-12 11:54:19

On most of our local trains there is no space to leave a pushchair safely so me and DS always end up stood out in the boarding bit.
If we manage to get a train with space to leave the pushchair then I will normally give him a seat to himself. If its busy he sits on my knee.

This is why I've been too scared to take DS on any long train journeys. I'd pay for a seat for him, but if the train got busy i'd feel I had to put him on my knee. This would be fine for about three minutes, but I suspect the meltdown that would follow would have the whole carriage wishing i'd just left him in his seat!

manicinsomniac Mon 31-Dec-12 11:58:39

I don't live in London but go there quite often and rarely see anyone in need not being given a seat. I think most people are decent.

It can be difficult and embarrassing though. I often an elderly lady my seat on the tube on Saturday and she looked very upset and said, 'it's ok dear, I'm not too old to stand yet.' I don't know who was more embarrassed, her or me.

So maybe the fear of making a wrong judgement call keeps healthy people in their seats too often, I don't know.

Startail Mon 31-Dec-12 12:04:53

Offering seats can be very nearly impossible.

DDs and I know that our train tends to be on the platform early and DD2 tends to have reached shopping tolerance.

When you look up and there are 8 people standing in the doorway, you can hardly walk the length of the carriage and say,

"Hi you look a bit old or a bit pregnant would you like my seat" I think they would be mortified.

Yes if you are in the seat by the door and someone is obviously uncomfortable, but otherwise it's really difficult.

Also, I'd much rather have stood than put DD2 on my knee (she climbed about and fidggited), but no one wants to sit next to someone else's toddler.

MissPricklePants Mon 31-Dec-12 12:06:01

I have travelled from south yorks to south wales often with dd, when she was approx 18 months I had to stand the entire way even though I had reserved seats as there was nowhere to put the pushchair and my luggage! I was fuming! I always book a seat for dd (she is 3.7) as I refuse to stand up for 6 hours on a train again!!

Startail Mon 31-Dec-12 12:07:03

Appologies to DD2 she can sit nicely it was her sister who wanted to stand on the table.

whois Mon 31-Dec-12 12:07:19

If you want a seat on a national rail service, then book a seat.

If you need a seat then just ask for one!! It shouldn't be up to the person sitting down to decide how pregnant/elderly/disabled you are, you need to come out and ask for a seat. Also pg in london should wear the 'baby on board' badge on the tube. Really helps with the should I/shouldn't I is she just fat dilemma.

Some women are fucking horrible tho, I saw a man get snarled at for offering his seat (the priority one) to what looked like a pg lady last week. And I was walking with a male friend through some doors which he held open for me and then paused to hold the door for the woman behind and she gave him a look of hatred and bitched "I am capable of opening they myself you know" oh righ, so he should have just let it swing shut in your face? Cow. Doesn't cost much to smile...

mellowcat Mon 31-Dec-12 12:09:26

I was (standing) on a busy overcrowded train the other day. A group of women in their twenties got on and immediately started saying loudly how disgusting it was that nobody offered their friend who was pregnant a seat. The girl was not noticeably pregnant and they got really aggressive towards one bloke in particular (I think he must have commented). Another guy gave the girl his seat and it became noticeable that the guy had a disability. When the train cleared a little, the pregnant woman's friends legged it to the free seats but guess what...did not offer any of their seats to the guy who gave his up.

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Mon 31-Dec-12 12:11:00

If I'm on a train with ds age 2.5,I prefer to stand. It's easier than spending the whole journey trying to convince him to sit down and stay put. And the only way he will learn how to not fall over is by practicing. grin

yggdrasil Mon 31-Dec-12 12:15:54

There is a baby on board badge? shock

I do not think that anything in this world could persuade me to wear something so twee.

tinierclanger Mon 31-Dec-12 12:18:13

I expect a small child (say under 5) to be sat on an adults lap if the train is busy and people are standing. This doesn't seem to be a popular mumsnet view though!

bruffin Mon 31-Dec-12 12:20:38

Children,usually under 5 who travel free are not entitled to seats and should sit on laps.
When my dcs were under 5 and we travelled on long journeys . I always paid for a ticket and reserved seats for the dcs.

EmpressOfThePuddle Mon 31-Dec-12 12:36:34

I think the Baby on Board badges are a great idea. If I see someone wearing one on the tube I'll offer my seat immediately and there's none of the 'is she, isn't she' dilemma.

StickEmWithThePointyEnd Mon 31-Dec-12 12:42:18

I wouldn't pay for a seat for ds as he wouldn't use it! If they had a harness or seatbelt on seats then I'd pay for that even a cage to keep him contained will do.

ifancyashandy Mon 31-Dec-12 12:43:16

It would not occur to me to not ask someone to move their bag or if I could sit next to them if they we on the aisle next to an empty seat. Would people really feel awkward asking in either of these scenarios? I sometimes dump my bag on a seat when I first get on a train (commute every day). I'd a) move it if the train started to fill up or b) not bat an eyelid if asked to move it as I'd not noticed the filling up.

And of course we, 'Down South' offer seats if necessary hmm

GrrrArghZzzzYaayforall8nights Mon 31-Dec-12 12:43:48

whois, it's not that simple.

Not all trains allow you to book tickets for starters and even if you do if the train is very busy it can be hard to enforce. And many people will put their headphones in and put their backs to you if you try to engage them, if not shout abuse and shove you for daring to bother them.

My DH is visibly disabled and like SueFlays, he often gets ignored. People literally push past him and block seats to prevent him using them even when he is traveling with our small children. No amount of asking does any good. Until he falls down, then people crowd around him, tell him what he should have done and be doing and disregard what he needs for what he thinks he should be happy with (he hates people pushing the emergency button and begs them not to, it's not an emergency if he falls down and there is not a thing anyone can do so it just proves to embarrass him further but people act like he should be grateful they bothered to notice and disregard him).

And I hate people telling me smile, that is costs nowt to smile, why should I smile to make someone else happy? I'm not here to amuse you.

MissCoffeeNWine Mon 31-Dec-12 12:48:19

I travel on routes where you can't reserve seats and usually end up standing. Last time I was standing with a 5 year old who had been bought a ticket, a suitcase and backpack and a 2 month old baby.

atthewelles Mon 31-Dec-12 12:54:44

People who think they're entitled to take up a seat for their bag or coat on a packed bus or train are unbelievably selfish and should feel very embarassed when asked to move it; not get annoyed and irritable.

fairylightsandtinsel Mon 31-Dec-12 12:55:23

What do you do if you have purchased a ticket for a (say) 3 year old in order that they CAN have a reserved seat on a long journey, and then it gets crowded? Obviously if there was anyone pregnant / infirm etc I would hoist DS onto knee to free up the seat but if it was perfectly able people I might feel a bit more hmm about it - long journeys need to be planned and booked for in advance for this reason. If someone asked me directly I would probably also move him, for a while at least, but a squirmy 3 year old has limits too.

HuffAndHufflepuff Mon 31-Dec-12 13:10:57

It's a bugger of etiquette. I was once standing at the front of a very crowded bus with a little suitcase, a woman sitting opposite me catches my eye, looks down at my stomach, looks at me in horror and almost shouts 'here have my seat love!', everyone starts to move to let me across, I say 'no thanks', she insists, loudly- I had to say very firmly 'I'm not pregnant I'm just fat'. I was on my way to a wedding too, really knocked my confidence.

I like the baby on board badges, I rarely see them but when I do it removes all doubt! Though I have to admit I've only ever seen them on women who are very obviously very pregnant!

PessaryPam Mon 31-Dec-12 13:24:47

I love my car!!!

MsCrow Mon 31-Dec-12 13:51:01

I don't think you're being unreasonable. I was on a tran recently, a London Midland where you can't book seats. A family of four with children aged about 5 and 8 had seats with their parents at a table. It was heaving, a parent with a tiny toddler had nowhere to sit. Sure, he could have asked the family, but the mother clocked him, twice, and didn't shift her daughter, or son. People fear having their head bitten off for asking...Sure, they might be entitled to a seat as they would have tickets, but I think I sat on my mother's lap when needed until I was about 9. Just because you're entitled, doesn't mean you should exercise that entitlement on a busy train.

I don't personally agree that just because you've managed to book a seat for your 2.5 year old, that means you shouldn't move them onto your lap, even if your toddler is a wiggler. Most children tend to be quieter and better behaved on busy trains if they're on a lap next to someone strange. Quite frankly though, just because a meltdown is feared doesn't mean you shouldn't try to do the right thing.

As for underground travel, those badges are silly, but worth it. At eight months pregnant, no one would have guessed so the badge was brilliant. I've generally found people are always courteous on the tube when I have dd in her carrier, I've never not been offered a seat.

SCOTCHandWRY Mon 31-Dec-12 13:55:09

What Pessarypam said!

My solution - on grounds of passenger safety, is that NO passenger should be on any kind of moving vehicle unless there is a seat for that passenger.

I say that as someone who has been injured more than once on trains and buses when sudden breaking (not an actual accident) has thrown my weight forward, resulting in a hip injury and an arm injury. I have also see a child catapulted down the bus and into the footwell by the door, again by sudden unexpected breaking.

Now, with several children of various ages, I avoid public transport when ever possible - in part, because it is massively expensive compared to running a car! In part, this is due to the fact we live in the Scottish countryside...

FromEsme Mon 31-Dec-12 14:13:49

It's my experience that people in London generally offer a seat to those in need. A woman once asked me to move because she had a toddler with her and I moved - I didn't notice her because I was engrossed in my book. I think a lot of people in London are trying to block out other people, so might need to be asked.

I always tell people to move their bags, so bloody rude.

Not sure about offering pregnant women a seat, sometimes it's not obvious and I wouldn't want to offend anyone. Same with older people, my mum, who is 60, was a bit upset that she was now considered old enough to be offered a seat.

I think most people are decent though.

Whatdoiknowanyway Mon 31-Dec-12 14:40:51

I get offered seats on the tube. I have white hair but am not yet 50, look healthy and have no disabilities. Sometime people just see the hair and make assumptions.
I try always to be courteous but am reluctant to take the seat if there is someone more in need nearby.

TandB Mon 31-Dec-12 15:01:42

I'm always gobsmacked at people standing on the tube or train and glaring at someone with a bag on a seat, but not actually asking for it to be moved.

Obviously it should be moved the second the train starts filling up, but if it isn't that doesn't mean that you just suck it up and stand!

I will always ask for the bag to be moved. Sometimes people make a bit of a performance of moving it and then huff and tut for the rest of the journey, but I've only once had one woman argue about it, saying that there was no room for her to put it anywhere else. I said that if she didn't move it I would assume she was fine with me sitting on it. She moved it fairly sharpish at that point and miraculously found room for it on her knee - she had only not wanted it there because she was on her laptop at the time.

It's the same with people sitting in the aisle seat to try and keep the window seat free. If they are obviously trying to ignore people needing the seat, I don't even ask if they would mind moving - I just say "Excuse me, I need to get past to that seat." It leaves less of an opening for argument. I did once hear a woman refusing to move on the basis that she was pregnant and couldn't have anyone sitting too close to her in case they bumped her stomach. The elderly lady asking for the seat said she was quite happy to sit on her knee if that would be better - she moved!

manicinsomniac Mon 31-Dec-12 15:13:16

Scotchandwry - if that was the rule nobody would ever get where they wanted to go at all!

Chunkymumma Mon 31-Dec-12 15:16:28

I hate crowded trains. Anyone seen the tube in Japan (I think)? They actually employ 'pushers' on the platforms to shove everyone into the carriages!

Enfyshedd Mon 31-Dec-12 20:46:55

2 of my experiences travelling by train while about 8 months pregnant:

1. I got on to go to work one morning and the train was much busier than normal - usually my stop was the last one where you could guarantee having a seat, but this particular morning, not a chance. An friend of mine had caught the same train so we were joking about the joys of standing the half hour to work. At the next stop, someone got out of a seat about half a carriage length upf from us - my friend legged it down the carriage to stop someone else sitting in there and called me over to make sure I had the seat.

2. I'd done a lot of shopping in my lunch hour and had 3 very full, large bags. I'd also deliberatly worked overtime that day as well to catch a later train so it wouldn't be as busy on the way home. I was knackered and yes, I admit I was the seat hogger with my bags. However, I couldn't help but be amazed at the woman who insisted on me moving the 2 bags which were on the seat (which I could only pile on top of the other bag which was perched on my knees and my bump as I couldn't bend to put them by my legs) when there was a perfectly good seat 2 rows up because she wanted to chat to her bloody friend in the seat behind!! And she took her bloody time when we got to my stop - It took about 3 "excuse me please"'s before she realised/noticed I was talking to her (durr...) and somebody had to stop the doors from closing because of the time to took for her to harumph her way out of the seat and me to unwedge myself from the window seat and gather up my shopping. If the doors had closed, I don't know if I would have shouted at her or cried...

AgathaTrunchbull Mon 31-Dec-12 21:34:05

The baby on board badges for the tube are brilliant - I've worn mine since about 5 months in and have never had a problem being offered a seat. Once a guy gave me his newspaper as well, which was nice! grin I couldn't have stood, as heat and enclosed spaces made me faint for months. On a couple of occasions, I was only going another couple of stops, so said this, but thanked the person nonetheless.

Seriously, wear the badge! It removes all doubt. Also, definitely ask for bags to be removed. I think quite a few people will put their bag on a seat for easy access, but are happy to move it if necessary.

lovelyladuree Mon 31-Dec-12 22:12:26

So, we are all equal? Or are some more equal than others?

TheCollieDog Mon 31-Dec-12 23:01:08

Interesting. I've read plenty of threads on here where people have declared that a) their small child has as much right to a seat (not a lap) as any adult and generally more of a right; and/or b) their medium age (say from 8 or 9) child has as much or more right to a seat than an adult.

I believe neither: we were taught to give up our seats to adults (indeed it was a condition of my school bus pass that I did not occupy a seat if an adult were standing), and I think small children can sit on a parent/carer's lap, or two littlies can budge up into one seat.

pointedlynoresolutions Mon 31-Dec-12 23:18:17

Blimey - it wasn't that long ago that I plonked my almost 10yo DD2 on my lap because the train was so busy and someone else needed the seat. Fortunately she's a skinny thing.

And I never put my bags on the seat beside me, even if the train is empty.

EverythingsNotRosie Mon 31-Dec-12 23:25:25

I was once offered a seat when not pregnant, just fat. So so embarrassed as the lady that offered it was quite elderly. Those stickers sound excellent!

TheFallenNinja Mon 31-Dec-12 23:31:50

Nobody offers seats now because they reserve (and in some cases pay) for them in advance. It makes them territorial, book well in advance and travel off peak, far less stressful. wink

TheCollieDog Mon 31-Dec-12 23:43:28

Well if you've booked and paid for seats, I don't see that as territorial, just sensible! I do a lot of long distance train journeys and always book a seat. It makes me cranky if I have to ask someone to move.

I wonder if this is the thing: we all have our own idea of what is polite behaviour for sharing public space. Most of the time, our ideas all overlap and it's fine. But sometimes we come up against a different set of ideas about appropriate behaviour about sharing space on public transport and it's irritating to have to ask for what we see as standard "good manners." I get irritated by phone & loud voice noise in the Quiet Coach, for example, and what irritates me is actually havig to ask people to keep it down. It's the Quiet Coach, I shouldn't have to ask.

I can absolutely see the logic of other posts on this thread about asking for a seat or quiet or one's reservation, and so on. Asking directly for what you want saves all the passive aggressiveness we're so good at. But I still resent having to ask for what I shouldn't have to ask for because other people should KNOW!

But we all have slightly different ideals of behaviour. For example, if there's plenty of space on the train, I will put my bags on the seat next to me. If it looks as though the train is going to be full up at a particular stop, I put them on the floor, and leave the seat next to me empty. But I've read on similar threads here that some people will deliberately ask a person to move his/her bags if they're on a seat, even if there are free seats elsewhere. I guess because they want to make a point?

Gillyweed001 Mon 31-Dec-12 23:47:51

I always wore my baby on board badge when pregnant, and the majority of the time I was offered a seat. There was one time that it was quite hot on the tube, so I took my coat off, which had my badge on it. A man offered me his seat after watching me for about 5 minutes. I thanked him, and he said he would have offered me his seat sooner, but couldn't figure out if I was pregnant or just fat. I think he had a fair point.

Alligatorpie Mon 31-Dec-12 23:48:14

The last train ride I took was a 40 minute ride to London, I was with my 10 day old baby and my six year old. I had the baby in a sling ( no stroller) and asked a woman to move her luggage from priority setting so I could sit. She said "no". I told her I had a 10 day old baby, this was priority seating and asked if she had bought a ticket for her luggage? She has early 40s (my age) and very well dressed. A man sitting a few rows in front leapt up and gave me his seat.
I was hormonal and exhausted, but manged to not start hurling her luggage out of the way. If that man hadn't offered me his seat and I hadn't wanted my older dd to see me make a scene, I would have gone mental.

But I always ask people to move purses or handbags and no one has ever acted annoyed about it.

Hypermutley Mon 31-Dec-12 23:53:55

On the flip side, sometimes people who want to sit dont help themselves. I work in canary wharf and the jubilee line packs up at the stop. people queue up to get on the tube in an orderly fashion. If you want a seat you can move up the queue and then miss a train and get to front of the queue to get a seat. Tubes are every 2-3 minutes at rush hour. I get annoyed when i see pregnant women get on and expect a seat in this situation when they can wait 3 minutes to get on a train not far behind with a seat! or is it just me?!

TidyDancer Mon 31-Dec-12 23:55:21

I will offer my seat (even if I had one or both DCs with me) on a train or tube, but generally my stance on this is that unless people are willing to ask for a seat, they shouldn't expect to be offered one. As some on this thread have proven, the capacity to cause upset and offence at the offer of a seat prevent many people from offering and I don't blame them. I would rather someone be induced to asked for a seat than upset a heavy woman by pointing out her size with the assumption that she's pregnant.

No one, adult or child, should be expected to give up their seat if they have reserved and paid for them specifically. That's not to suggest that they can't opt to offer the seat if they wish, but they reserved for a reason.

AlwaysHoldingOnToStarbug Tue 01-Jan-13 00:46:59

I will always move my children to offer seat space, but sometimes it depends! I was on a packed train once with barely standing room and 6 year old twins, I was going to make them both sit on my knee but everyone told me not to! I was a bit glad of that tbh! They were already sharing a seat, I've managed to fit me and 3 kids into 2 seats plenty of times.

I've never heard of these baby on board badges, is it something on the tube? They sound great for those times you're not sure. Maybe they should make "no, I'm just fat!" ones too, I could wear one! (been asked a couple of times recently, but not on a train yet!)

CoolaYuleA Tue 01-Jan-13 00:56:10

I once stood on a red hot, packed tube train for 45 mins, at 8.5 months pregnant. I was massive, it was obvious, and not one person offered me their seat. It was only this one journey as every other one was fine, but it was complete and utter hell. I was shoved, bashed, my bump was knocked into repeatedly. I could have cried.

bruffin Tue 01-Jan-13 01:01:11

I had a horribly journey with three of us sharing a double seat on a bus. It was a really hot day and dcs were getting quite big and were a little wriggly but only affected me as i was under them. There was nobody standing but full bus.

Had to sit with an old bag behind us moaning about badly behaved kids today, and how when she was little they never went anywhere as if taking kids on a bus was a crime, ended up losing it with her and asked the rest of the bus if my dcs were misbehaving, embarrassed her into silence.
On the way back ds sat next to lovely old lady and they had a nice chat about her cats.

confuddledDOTcom Tue 01-Jan-13 02:07:42

I've walked with crutches for the last 4 years and for most of the last 6 years I've had a baby strapped to my front. I can guarantee it'll be old ladies giving up their priority seat to allow me to sit down whilst the young, fit and healthy look out of their window and pretend to be oblivious, and that upsets me.

I put a complaint in to the bus company a few months ago when the driver insisted I gave up my priority seat (baby in sling, toddler with mobility problems of her own on my lap) to allow a pushchair on. He refused to move until I stood up! The bus was packed and most drivers would have said no or fold it up and I wasn't the only one who could have moved. I ended up getting off the bus and walking the rest of the way.

SpeedyMarie Tue 01-Jan-13 02:29:45

I think I have had more good than bad experiences on trains/public transport with small dc's, you do get the odd selfish fuckface, but what can you do.

I do find lots of people to be thoughtful and helpful and try to be so myself.

The weirdest thing I ever saw was on a GNER train, a family had taken residence of a four seater place with table, with a tiny wee baby, although this was in the smoking carriage, the baby was placed on the table in a snowsuit and left there for the 3 hour journey shock. Even my lungs were giving out at the end, poor thing.

bruffin Tue 01-Jan-13 04:15:28

TBH i did travel a lot with my dcs when they were little. I regularly went completly across london to visit my mum, and long trips to dorset to visit mil with 2 dc who were 2 years apart, so at times had a double buggy full of luggage.
I very rarely had any problems. Once got turfed off bus because they wanted me to close buggy, but i couldnt as i had so much shopping etc.
Ds never travelled well on tubes as it made him sleepy but he just sat on my lap o wedged him against wall.
As i said above i always booked seats to dorset, but the train was very rarely that full.

TidyDancer Tue 01-Jan-13 11:00:43

CoolaYuleA - did you ask for a seat?

I continue to be amazed at the amount of people who are pissed off to not be offered a seat, but to whom it doesn't occur to actually ask!

TheCollieDog Tue 01-Jan-13 11:09:38

I s'pose that's what I mean, CoolYule -- that some/a lot of people feel they shouldn't have to ask -- that others should offer, as basic good manners (and manners are about thinking of others before oneself). It's a basic lack of fit of our ideas of sharing public space. I can see both points of view, TBH. I suppose, if I really needed a seat, I would ask, while grumping a bit that I should have to ask.

Although there are some situations where even asking is pointless -- I've told the story before of being on a bus with only one arm & hand being of any use (a temporary 12 month disability) and women with prams taking up all the priority seats and refusing to look up from texting to even see that others might need a seat. They had previously refused to move to allow a man in a wheelchair to board. In my view, disability trumps prams at any time. Although I managed as I was temporarily disabled & gradually got increasingly strong so standing with wonky balance wasn't too bad, and got used to the selfishness. But I still think of the man in the wheelchair ...

TidyDancer Tue 01-Jan-13 11:23:28

TheCollieDog, why should you get a seat if you're not willing to ask? I just do not understand the mentality of people who will get in a strop at not being offered a seat, when IME all they need to do is ask.

There is so much scope for causing offence if you offer one up (calling fat people pregnant, a person with disabilities is deemed incapable of standing, an older person offended that they are thought of as elderly, etc) that I completely understand and fully support people not offering a seat. The majority though, will be willing to give up a seat if it's requested of them.

I really have very little sympathy for people who tantrum and moan about not getting to sit down when needed if they won't just ask for a seat.

confuddledDOTcom Tue 01-Jan-13 11:54:13

IME people see you coming and look out the window, get a book or their phone out and begin texting... anything other than look at the disabled mum who might ask them to give up their priority seating. otoh mums with pushchairs will make a fuss if they can't sit in priority seating because a disabled person is there! then we have the driver I spoke about who wouldn't move until I gave up my seat for a pushchair.

I don't think our experiences match really.

Bunbaker Tue 01-Jan-13 11:57:44

I always give up my seat to anyone who needs it. DD is 12 and looks perfectly healthy, but she has a condition in her bones that make her knees very sore and she needs to sit. So you can't always assume that a healthy looking person is being selfish by not offering their seat.

TheCollieDog Tue 01-Jan-13 12:04:35

* otoh mums with pushchairs will make a fuss if they can't sit in priority seating because a disabled person is there!*

I suppose my brief experience of temporary disability is that a disabled person has very little choice about their need. 6 months on public transport (I don't drive & couldn't have anyway with only one arm usable) taught me a lot! Everyone -- particularly those who are responsible for managing public transport of any kind, should do a few weeks with a mobility or other physical problem, IMO.

So you can't always assume that a healthy looking person is being selfish by not offering their seat.

And that's the problem with TidyDancer's philosophy of "You've got to ask for a seat." I'm not saying TinyDancer's view is not sensible -- it is : it's sensible & healthy to ask for what you need, rather than the typical English passive-aggressive moaning & muttering she talks of! But ... sometimes it's not so simple.

Ouch, I'm getting splinters from this fence I'm sitting on.

BigSpork Tue 01-Jan-13 12:07:52

TidyDancer, I've never seen anyone having a strop or tantrum at not being offered a seat. I have seen people scowl at anyone in need who looks at them, turn their backs on them, shout abuse, shove, purposefully block seats for certain people, push past those with disability to get a seat, teachers allowing students in their care to push out a man with a stick who was desperately trying to get the just freed priority seat (then yell at the man for not asking when he fell over). Offering one up may cause discomfort if it is not well received, but it is nothing like the discomfort that the other people are going through and shouldn't put people off looking for those in need and doing good for the sake of their own comfort.

I have had some very lovely generous people on trains, the vast majority of people are. But if for people like my DH who is a young disabled man who has gone through this horrible treatment repeatedly, it can be more comfortable to grin and bear (and risk falling over, spending the next few days with his legs up, needing his stronger pain meds he hates) than risk people's abuse in front of our 4 small children especially when people's body language radiates their displeasure that you might bother them.

SaraBellumHertz Tue 01-Jan-13 12:18:25

I once had a woman complain that my bump hit her in the face. I kid you not.

I was on one of those busses with the seating facing inwards and as the bus got more and more jammed I was forced to stand closer and closer. My bump was pretty much in her face for twenty mins. There was absolutely no mistaking that I was heavily pregnant and as the bus lurched another standing passage fell into me pushing me into this woman who then had the nerve to snarl "FGS be careful!"

Gillyweed001 Tue 01-Jan-13 12:21:22

One of my friends has ME and has written to tfl requesting a similar badge to the baby on board one. This one is an 'I have an invisible disability' badge. The guy who write back said it is something they will look into, as you can't always tell by looking at someone if they have a disability.

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.

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.

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 12:38:01

II31 Moving coats is different to asking to move yourself.

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

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).

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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