Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: rabbit_woman on November 04, 2012, 01:38:32 AM

Title: Train Reservations
Post by: rabbit_woman on November 04, 2012, 01:38:32 AM
This happened to me yesterday coming back from holiday, and although I was astonished at the rudeness of it, I wondered what you guys thought? Were we right to be offended? Would there have been a better way to deal with it?

In the UK, when you buy a train ticket in advance, you can also reserve a seat. Most carriages have seats in rows, as normal, but there are maybe three or four tables in each carriage with four seats arranged around a table. You can specifically reserve a table seat, which my husband and I did. On this occasion, we had the aisle seats reserved, opposite each other, and also the window seats were reserved for passengers getting on at a station about an hour away. We thought this was a bit strange because there was no one else in the rest of the carriage,also, none of the other seats were reserved, including both the other seats with tables, but we unpacked our books, food and drink, enjoyed the space, and sat back to appreciate the marvellous West Country scenery as we headed home (trains can be a nightmare in the UK, but when its good it is a wonderful experience!)

Then, about an hour later, a couple got on, walked through the carriage- still pretty much empty apart from us - past all the empty seats and the empty table seats, pointed to the window seats next to us and said "hello, those are our seats, excuse us"- perfectly polite, except the rest of the carriage was EMPTY! And they wanted us all to squash up into four seats together!?

The man actually began to say, let's sit somewhere else and was moving to another seat, but the woman said that THOSE were their seats, she'd booked seats with a table specially. And she had a point, those were their seats- but the rest of the carriage was empty! Including another table! I was astonished at them; rather than be all cramped up together, I said to my husband in quite a loud voice " its ridiculous us all squashed up in these seats together when the rest of the carriage is empty, lets just move," - I know, I know, that was PA, but I was a bit bewildered- and this couple watched us pack up all our stuff and move to the identical table seats down the carriage before sitting down themselves......

So, were they rude? Or perfectly justified? Is there anything I could have said differently? I don't think reasoning with them would have worked, they were determined to have their seats and no other seats would do .....
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: cicero on November 04, 2012, 01:46:44 AM
I don't think she was rude (maybe stupid, but not rude) - she is correct: those were *her* seats, and just as you reserved a *specific* seat and sat in it even though the rest of the carriage was empty, she has the right to do the same. and since i don't know what the rest of the journey was like, or was expected to be like, I don't know if the train usually fills up, if other seats are usually reserved, etc

your reply was snarky, as you yourself pointed out.

You could have said "we'll be happy to move so we can all sit in comfort. but since the other seats in the carriage are all empty, would you mind taking the other table instead of this one?" worst case scenario they would have said no.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: sweetonsno on November 04, 2012, 02:32:58 AM
I don't think it's rude. Passengers are entitled to the seats that they reserved. As cicero said, there is no way of predicting how the rest of the trip would go. Would the train fill up? Would they be asked to move by whoever's seats they stole? Would the conductor make them move to their assigned seats? They were perfectly justified in wanting to sit in the seats that they paid for.

While I do understand your frustration, I believe that in this case, the onus is on you to relocate because you are the one who did not want to share a table. The woman who came on clearly thought it was more important to sit in the assigned seats than to have a table to themselves. You and your husband seem to have thought it was more important to have a table to yourselves than to sit in your assigned seats. You could both easily have your way by you and your husband moving, but somebody winds up unhappy if they have to move or you have to share a table.

I think it's tough to say anything without sounding snarky when you're annoyed, but perhaps a, "We'd rather spread out, so we're going to switch over to that table. Please excuse us" would have worked.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Barney girl on November 04, 2012, 02:53:10 AM
If I had gone to the bother of reserving seats (sometimes it's included in the price and sometimes you have to pay another 4) I would have been very put out at someone suggesting I sit somewhere else for their convenience. Clearly these people did not feel it an issue that they had to share a table so why should the have to sit elsewhere?

I don't know what the bookings for this route is like, but on East Coast when you book online you can see where your seat is in the carriage and move your reservation. If that's the case for you you could have chosen to reserve seats at a table without other reservations. You could also have chosen when you got aboard to sit at a different table. Ultimately, if having the whole table was so important to you you could have paid for four tickets.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: rabbit_woman on November 04, 2012, 03:10:15 AM
The option to chose your seats was not available.

Reserving seats on this route (fgw) did not cost extra. I haven't encountered having to pay extra to reserve seats before.

There are often complications with train journeys which compromise the reservation system; i have had someone refuse to move from the seat i have reserved before, and there is nothing you can do about that short of physical violence! Once, we were just making our way to our seats when there was an announcement that all seat reservations were cancelled because of a fault with the reservation printing system, so although we had tickets with our seat numbers printed on them we had to stand the whole way whilst someone else sat in our seats - no, we did not get compensation, because the train company said that the reservation system was just a complimentary add on service and not enforceable! And another time we had to stand because a really old couple were in our seats - we couldn't make them stand for the two hour journey, could we!?

In comparison,when we got on the train on the way to our holiday, there was someone sat in one of our seats, but rather than make him move we took two other seats that were also reserved; when the passengers who had those seats reserved got on, the chap who was in one of our seats then moved so we could sit at our allocated spot, all without fuss or complaint because by then the train had filled up quite a bit.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: MariaE on November 04, 2012, 04:24:50 AM
You were rude, they were not.

Danish rail works the same way, and you take the seats you reserve, because you never know when the train might fill up.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Sharnita on November 04, 2012, 06:24:54 AM
You were the rude one.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Snooks on November 04, 2012, 08:01:11 AM
I don't think she was rude (maybe stupid, but not rude) - she is correct: those were *her* seats, and just as you reserved a *specific* seat and sat in it even though the rest of the carriage was empty, she has the right to do the same. and since i don't know what the rest of the journey was like, or was expected to be like, I don't know if the train usually fills up, if other seats are usually reserved, etc

your reply was snarky, as you yourself pointed out.

You could have said "we'll be happy to move so we can all sit in comfort. but since the other seats in the carriage are all empty, would you mind taking the other table instead of this one?" worst case scenario they would have said no.


I agree with Cicero.  You sat in your reserved seats despite the carriage being empty, you could see that the rest of the carriage was empty and that the seats next to you were reserved so you had an hour to decide whether or not to move before they even got on.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: rose red on November 04, 2012, 08:11:03 AM
I agree you were rude.  They had the right to their reserved seat.  If you want space, it's up to you to move, not them.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Surianne on November 04, 2012, 08:26:45 AM
You were very rude; they did nothing wrong.  If it was unacceptable to you to share the table, you had the option to move.  There's no reason they were required to give up their assigned seats for you. 
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Mental Magpie on November 04, 2012, 09:15:05 AM
The only part I think you were rude in was your response.  I do not think they were rude at all.  Sure, they were frustrating and apparently thoughtless, but they had every right to those seats and they were not rude to take them.  Saying nothing next time is probably your best bet.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Zilla on November 04, 2012, 09:51:36 AM
I know you explained at length that reserved seats aren't enforceable but what if someone did come on the train and asked you to move as you were in their reserved seats?  They didn't know if the rest of the train would be reserved on the upcoming stops.  Or many their trip was longer than yours.
 
I only think you were rude in your response to your husband and if you wanted to move, do it quietly. There was no reason for snark.  In fact, you said in your OP that you knew those seats were reserved.  If you saw the other parts were empty, why didn't you go and sit there knowing the 2 seats were reserved at your table already?
 
Snipped from OP:
In the UK, when you buy a train ticket in advance, you can also reserve a seat. Most carriages have seats in rows, as normal, but there are maybe three or four tables in each carriage with four seats arranged around a table. You can specifically reserve a table seat, which my husband and I did. On this occasion, we had the aisle seats reserved, opposite each other, and also the window seats were reserved for passengers getting on at a station about an hour away. We thought this was a bit strange because there was no one else in the rest of the carriage,also, none of the other seats were reserved, including both the other seats with tables, but we unpacked our books, food and drink, enjoyed the space, and sat back to appreciate the marvellous West Country scenery as we headed home (trains can be a nightmare in the UK, but when its good it is a wonderful experience!)
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: scotcat60 on November 04, 2012, 10:07:43 AM
If noneof the other seats were reserved why sit on those that were?
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: NyaChan on November 04, 2012, 10:46:48 AM
They weren't rude (a little silly though maybe?).  They were as entitled to their reserved seat as you were.  I also wonder - when you were enjoying the space, were you using the whole table?  She may have felt irritated that you were using space that had been reserved for someone else with the expectation that they would just move elsewhere when they arrived.  Other than that, I can think of no reason why she was so adamant about those seats.  I think you did cross the line though by making that comment - it is almost like you were trying to make them feel bad for using the seats they specifically reserved.  I mean you chose aisle seats, you had to know there was a possibility that someone would want the window seats next to you.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: rabbit_woman on November 04, 2012, 11:45:17 AM
Ah, well, I always try to be measured and reasonable but obviously in this case I was not, thank you very much for your replies.

Although, in my defense, I was quite annoyed that this couple had the choice of their seats or every other seat on the train, and still chose to encroach upon our space; and they did indeed spread out and use the whole table plus our reserved seats for their stuff when we moved.

Also, you can tell if seats are reserved as they have printed tickets attached. So if you got an unreserved seat, you could sit there in the knowledge that no one was going to request you to move on your journey. Therefore, if they had sat on the unreserved seat it would not have made any difference whatever whether the train filled up or not.

Quite often, people don't even turn up to claim their seats or chose a different seat anyway so many travellers will take their chances on a busy train by sitting in any available seat, to move when asked by whoever has reserved the seat. I have moved before. My pal who travels often to London says that is often the best way to get a seat, to sit on a reserved one and hope the passenger doesn't turn up because most of the time, they don't.

Many thanks again! X
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: GSNW on November 04, 2012, 02:38:19 PM
DH and I had a similar situation a few times when traveling by train in Italy.  First-class seats required reservations with our Eurail pass, and more often than not, someone was sitting in our seats when we boarded.  More than once they asked us to choose another empty seat in the car, which we politely declined to do.  I don't want to deal with the awkward situation of the person that seat belongs to showing up, asking for what is rightfully theirs, and being forced to move and shuffle all my stuff to the seat I originally reserved. 

ETA:  This also happened with some annoying fellow season-ticket holders at a local team stadium a few years ago.  We would arrive, this same pair would be in our seats.  We would ask them to move, they would point out all the empty seats around them.  We specifically selected those seats, and I'm not going to engage in the shuffle n' move stuff dance in the middle of the game when the people whose seats I am NOW sitting in (due to original seat usurpers) show up.  I'm not sure it matters how likely/unlikely it is to happen, the thought of having to move after settling in makes it impossible to enjoy myself.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Raintree on November 04, 2012, 02:47:18 PM
I don't think anyone was rude here, but personally, I probably would have spoken to the other couple and said something like, "well, I guess we didn't need to reserve after all, as the rest of the train is empty. It's silly for us to all be squashed up here, so we'll move and give you more space."

I do think that since you were there first, they should have been the ones to say this (although they weren't obligated to), but since they didn't, I'd have picked up and moved, as you did. I think the woman's refusal to pick a different seat is odd, but not rude.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: mw8242 on November 04, 2012, 05:47:06 PM
I'm a rule follower - mostly because it keeps me from being stressed out when I know I'm in the right. So if I reserved seats I want to sit in them to avoid spending the entire trip worrying about people showing up and making me move - especially if I'm reading and lost in a book. I would not enjoy the book, paper, computer, or talking with my friend because I would always be wondering when someone was going to make me move.

I get that some people do not have this anxiety and sometimes I will try to go with the flow but overall for me to enjoy my trip I need to be in the seat I chose.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Bees on November 04, 2012, 10:54:07 PM
We still are not sure how full the train got to be, however as other passengers got on wouldn't they see your reservation tags on the first table and not take those seats? So in effect you were taking up two tables?
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: ClaireC79 on November 05, 2012, 01:51:59 AM
The tickets on the seats have the start and end of your journey on them, so if you get on past that stop and noone is sitting in there it's fair game to assume they didn't turn up.

Sometimes you can look at the ticket and know you'll be off the train before those who reserved them get on
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Margo on November 05, 2012, 05:00:54 AM
It's also worth remembering that if the reservations are because they booked 'Advance' tickets (which you can't tell from looking at the reservation tickets on the seats) then its a condition of the tickets that you sit in the seats assigned, and (some) ticket collectors will enforce that, even when the train isn't full.

I agree that they weren't rude to want to sit in their own seats, and once you'd chosen to move, there was nothing rude about their spreading out and using the table.

The frustrating part is that the train company choses to put all the reservations together!
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: TootsNYC on November 05, 2012, 07:26:50 AM
I'm curious--when you reserved your table seats, at that time could you tell that only the seats next to you had been reserved? And what did you base your knowledge on when you say that none of the other seats in the car were reserved?

If that's info you had when you made your reservation, I'm wondering why *you* didn't reserve at a different table, in an attempt to avoid the guarantee of sharing a table.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: MOM21SON on November 05, 2012, 06:08:01 PM
I'm a rule follower - mostly because it keeps me from being stressed out when I know I'm in the right. So if I reserved seats I want to sit in them to avoid spending the entire trip worrying about people showing up and making me move - especially if I'm reading and lost in a book. I would not enjoy the book, paper, computer, or talking with my friend because I would always be wondering when someone was going to make me move.

I get that some people do not have this anxiety and sometimes I will try to go with the flow but overall for me to enjoy my trip I need to be in the seat I chose.

We must be related.  Once DS and I were flying, I had reserved our seats.  UGH we got to our row and there were people sitting in our seats.  Yes, i could have moved to their seats one row back, but for some reason I saw DS and I being pulled off the plane and held for breaching security. 
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Ezeesee on November 05, 2012, 06:53:09 PM
I'm curious--when you reserved your table seats, at that time could you tell that only the seats next to you had been reserved? And what did you base your knowledge on when you say that none of the other seats in the car were reserved?

If that's info you had when you made your reservation, I'm wondering why *you* didn't reserve at a different table, in an attempt to avoid the guarantee of sharing a table.

When making reservations with this train company you can choose if you want a table seat, window / aisle, sit forward / backward, and I think a quiet carriage on some routes as well. But you can't specifically choose which seat number, and there is no way of seeing how many other seats in the carriage are reserved. When on the train itself all the seats that are reserved have little tickets sticking out of the back with the start and the end station of the journey booked on them. The conductors do tend to stick all the reserved seats together, I suppose it makes it easier to put the tickets there?

To get back on topic, I always sit in my assigned seat as I was once told off by the conductor for not being there. It was a half empty carriage and I'd just taken the first available seat, but they can make you move if they want to. It's why I almost never reserve a seat any more, I'd rather just scramble for an empty one!
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: TootsNYC on November 05, 2012, 08:11:48 PM
. . .  I always sit in my assigned seat as I was once told off by the conductor for not being there. It was a half empty carriage and I'd just taken the first available seat, but they can make you move if they want to. It's why I almost never reserve a seat any more, I'd rather just scramble for an empty one!

Given this, I can see that the lady in the OP might have just wanted to sit in their own seats.
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Miss Understood on November 05, 2012, 10:15:00 PM
Yes, but I do not understand how the OP knew in advance that the table seats next to hers were taken.  If there were other table seats available, and OP could see that (I'm thinking about booking plane reservations in which you can pick your seat online), why didn't the OP take the other table seats?  I'm confused. ???
Title: Re: Train Reservations
Post by: Mental Magpie on November 05, 2012, 10:48:15 PM
Yes, but I do not understand how the OP knew in advance that the table seats next to hers were taken.  If there were other table seats available, and OP could see that (I'm thinking about booking plane reservations in which you can pick your seat online), why didn't the OP take the other table seats?  I'm confused. ???

She didn't until she got on the train, where the seats are marked with little tags that say when the person who reserved that seat will be getting on the train, which happened to be after the OP got on the train.