When you google “etiquette” you get a lot of things like “A lady may wear gloves and a hat indoors, but not mittens and a cap”. Or “the best way to exit a car when you’re wearing a mini skirt”. I mean, seriously. Who cares?

There are far more important points of order when it comes to manners in the 21st century. Like how to catch a train. How much to use your magical smartphone during a dinner date. What to give the lucky couple as a wedding gift. With that in mind, I thought I’d start a regular etiquette column for the High Tea Party Blog. For who better to be the bastions of excellent manners than the good folk who attend our beautiful High Tea Parties?

Today’s post will be about public transport travel. There are many ideas about the best way to do this, and some of my suggestions may be controversial, but as a rule of thumb, just be mindful of the comfort of everyone else in the carriage or on the bus and you’ll be fine.

  1. Giving up your seat. If there’s an old person standing, offer them your seat. If there’s a woman with a watermelon-like bulge under her dress, offer her your seat. If a person with a disability is standing, offer that person your seat. Don’t give me crap about not wanting to insult people who might not be as pregnant or old or disabled as they look. Trust your instincts. The biggest part of this is actually paying attention to people who are standing. Having a quick look around to check that anyone who looks like they need to sit – is seated. And if they don’t want your seat, they’ll just say, “No, thanks.” See? Easy?
  2. Your bag doesn’t need a seat. You might have just put it there without thinking and now you’re immersed in Candy Crush Saga and didn’t notice all those dirty looks by people who are wondering why an inanimate object gets a seat when they have to stand. So I’m asking you to pay attention. Put the bag next to your feet. Allow someone else to rest their weary bones.
  3. When waiting for the train, are you at the very front of the platform even though you know your ride is four trains away? Step back, mate. Please.
  4. Don’t eat smelly food. Seriously. Even if it smells good, it will make people hungry. If it smells bad. Well. You’re going to be on the train for between 20 and 60 minutes. I’m sure the hunger pangs can wait.
  5. I love listening to music because I can’t stand hearing other people talk on the train (unless it’s in a language I can’t understand, which is fine. Easy to tune out). But why not do a quick check that your ear buds aren’t flooding the carriage with tinny-Taylor tunes? We don’t share your taste.
  6. Which brings me to conversations. Sure, it’s fine to have a chat on your phone or to your buddy on the train. But try not to swear and keep your voice to a moderate level. I might also add to keep to mundane topics but I know a lot of people love eavesdropping on train conversations so maybe just talk about whatever takes your fancy. Just remember you’ve got an audience.
  7. Manspreading. Just. Don’t. Even.


From Flickr: Dushan Hanuska Commuters Town Hall station, Sydney

Have you got more ideas for train etiquette? Disagree with any of the above? We’d love to hear more about it on our Facebook page.