Most trains that one would frequent over the course of their life will have specially reserved seats for the elderly. While some of us would often choose to not sit on that train seat, others would, due to a multitude of reasons. Even then, we would probably move if an elderly person came up to us and asked us for a seat. But what happens when it is a first-class seat on an expensive train that actually costs a boatload (or trainload) of money? Would the elderly still be a priority for the seat? According to OP, that should not be the case.
In this r/AITA post, OP stated that she had reserved a first-class ticket for a journey from London to Aberdeen. Since the journey was 7 hours long, she wanted to get comfortable. She had also decided to book an expensive ticket because she had just returned from a tiring workweek and knew that she would be unable to function. And since she would still have to work, she might as well make sure that she was quite comfortable while doing so. The trouble started when another passenger got on the train and asked for that very seat.
“I got on the train in London and sat in my seat. The seat they’d assigned me was also the “priority seat”. “Priority seats” are the ones at the end of carriages for people with mobility issues due to age or disability etc. A woman got on after me who was around sixty-years old and pointed at the sign above my head and, quite rudely, told me to move because she was elderly. I told her I’d booked the seat and she’d need to speak to a member of staff to find her one. She pointed out that the train was full and there were no other seats. I apologized but reiterated that I’d booked the seat and wasn’t going to move.”
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The Curious Tale of The Priority Train Seat
OP didn’t know that the seat she had booked was a priority ticket- but she had paid for it, so she was well within her rights to not move from it. Also, it was discovered that the lady had booked a return ticket- but there wasn’t any specific train seat attached to it. This implied that she had on herself an open ticket, and hadn’t booked a seat reservation- which meant that she would be able to travel on any train, but she wouldn’t be guaranteed a seat unless there was a single ticket available.
The train guard who had decided to help asked both OP and the elderly lady if they would consider moving to the standard class- to which OP stated that she had already booked her ticket well in advance. Soon, the train guard had to take the elderly lady to the Standard class, after no one offered to give up their seat.
OP was worried that her actions had been less than honorable and took to Reddit to clear her conscience. As usual, Reddit delivered. u/naraic- commented, “The train company are the a****** here. They sold the disability seats as the most expensive seats on the train. They tried to get the person who bought those seats to move to standard. Those seats should imo never be sold unless the occupier is disabled. That’s on the train operator. It’s not on you.”
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Should OP Have Given Up Her Booked Seat?
u/rositree replied to this comment by adding, “Yeah, it seems odd to me that they would have a priority seat be reserved for people without a need for it. The faff you have to go through to book a train seat if you’re in a wheelchair is excessive. If you have a genuine need for a priority seat, you should have booked it ahead of time to ensure it is available when you need it.”
u/Enough-Builder-2230 was quite succinct in their opinion about UK trains and train seats. “Can I just say that UK trains are a monumental mess. Overbooked with elderly and disabled people unable to be seated and crammed into aisles for hours on end. Horrendously expensive. I asked a train employee once why they kept selling tickets when there were no seats left on the train and they thought this was weird, like it had never occurred to them that this was possible. I get that there’s more demand than there are trains, but isn’t that evidence of mismanagement? Maybe there’s something I’m missing, as someone from a country where the train system works properly, I dunno.”
u/thePokemon gave the most rational conclusion to this issue. They mentioned, “The priority seats are supposed to be booked last. But once everything else is full, and a senior or disabled guest hasn’t requested it yet, the final seat can legally, at least in the USA, be promised to a fare paying guest at full price. Usually they don’t stop there, however, at least in the states. They continue to book and book until they overbook to a degree that it’s definitely going to be a problem. That’s when the F****** gets really special.”
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- “AITA for not moving from my booked seat for an elderly person?” Reddit. October 2022.