Friday, 21 September 2012

Priority Seating

The scenario is oh so familiar. I step into the carriage, and there aren’t many people standing but the seats are all full. I position myself by the priority seat (slightly in the corridor, with my bump out. I normally get offered a seat within 2 stops (although that is often because a fair amount of the carriage empties at Camden station)). But more often than not, I will just be ignored. Some people have looked up and seen my “Baby on Board” sign, and quickly looked down again.

Others just seem to pretend to be asleep (how else do they know when it’s their stop?). Many more are absorbed in their own little world, reading/listening to music. I must admit, I was in the last category, although if I sat in the priority seat I always always looked up at every stop.

So here’s my question. What exactly is the Priority Seat?

Is the onus on the person seated on the priority seat to look up and offer? Or is the person that requires the priority seat meant to ask? Is there a way of asking without sounding rude?

Perhaps it’s the years of living in London, which has rendered my ability to speak to strangers to zero. I am at a loss. One particularly bad time was when I was coming back from the Paralympics on a Friday evening. I normally plan my travel around non-rush hour times, and go to the area most likely to have seats (2nd last carriage if getting on at Belsize Park). This time, I was caught in rush hour traffic with many business people. I got on at Bank, and did not get a seat until Kings Cross. It may sound bad, but when I don’t get a seat after 5 stops or so, my ill feeling towards Londoners get worse and worse. I was on the verge of tears when I was offered a seat, and was barely able to thank the man properly (although my partner thanked him profusely)

But here’s why pregnant people want/need to sit down. During the first 3 months or so, we’re more prone to morning sickness. If you sit down, it’s a lot (lot!) better; however, you don’t look pregnant, and it seems anti-intuitive to those that haven’t been pregnant to give it to a small-bumped pregnant person. During the 3-4 months, I’ve generally been ok. I’m fine with standing, but the extra weight put on does impact your feet. & I imagine, when you’re huuuugely pregnant, you’ll need to sit down (for the standard reasons... you’re huge and penguin like)


  1. That's why I left London! Went London Monday with two kids. My daughter fell down while standing in the moving tube. People watched her and turn away. I had to put her at a corner to sit on the floor! Not good!

    1. Thanks for the comment. My first one, so proud! :) I can't believe people on the tube; honestly, Londoners are so polite the rest of the time... kind of. We have a 5 year plan to move out of London, but we'd rather my husband spend less time commuting until he needs to (for school purposes).

  2. Oh God reading this post has reminded me of having that experience throughout my pregnancy also in London, also in rush-hour also with the "badge".
    Great post.
    Thank you so so much for visiting and commenting on my blog today.
    Liska x

    1. Thanks so much for your comment- wasn't expecting any (and then I saw two!). I think I may just ask politely for the priority seat in the future (if I really need to sit down). Let's hope I have the guts to do that next time I'm on the tube...!

      Diana :)

  3. Thanks for visiting my blog - as a regular visitor to London I find the tube so depressing. If have less than 4 stops to travel I always stand to allow others, in my mind, with longer journeys to sit.I have noticed a slight improvement in courtesy since the Olympics but it will wear off to soon. For a short and funny comment on this exact subject, the wonderful Caitlin Moran wrote a short piece for the times which is in her new book, Moranothoplogy - recommended! Damson Girl