Modern Etiquette: Minding your manners on the move

LONDON Mon Sep 3, 2012 5:39am EDT

Andy King and Molly Wilson from Michigan in the U.S. travel to the Olympic Park on a London Underground train that is less crowded than usual, during rush hour in London July 30, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Andy King and Molly Wilson from Michigan in the U.S. travel to the Olympic Park on a London Underground train that is less crowded than usual, during rush hour in London July 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - London's public transport system has been put to the test in 2012. It began with the party-goers for The Queen's Jubilee celebrations, and has culminated in sporting fans and tourists getting around the capital for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

Public transport inevitably throws you into close proximity with your fellow human beings and, in these circumstances, good manners are of paramount importance. Practise the small courtesies and you will find that getting from A to B doesn't have to be a traumatic experience.

* Wait for other passengers to exit before boarding the train: never jostle past people who are trying to get off.

* Be aware of your luggage and bags. Watch out for other people's feet if using a wheelie suitcase and remember to be aware of what's behind you when wearing a rucksack (backpack).

* If the carriage is crowded don't take up an additional seat with your excess baggage. No one should ever have to ask you to move your baggage. Don't sprawl in your seat, or put dirty feet on the seat opposite.

* Always offer your seat to those who need it more than you do - the elderly, disabled or obviously pregnant. Mothers with small children in tow should also be given priority.

* Be tolerant if sudden lurches (a frequent occurrence on buses and tubes) propel you into close proximity with other passengers. Apologise if you're the perpetrator, and smile politely if you're the one being crushed.

* Keep conversations with travelling companions or on mobile phones quiet and discreet - you don't want everyone around you to be involuntarily eavesdropping. * Avoid smelly foods on busy trains and tubes; even the least offensive choice can seem overwhelmingly pungent in the proximity of a crowded carriage.

* If you are using headphones, be aware that your music may be painfully audible to your neighbours, so adjust the volume accordingly. However, always use headphones: it is the height of bad manners to inflict music, or a noisy DVD soundtrack, on other people in a confined public place.

* Keep personal grooming private: no tweezing, plucking, manicuring etc. on public transport. This goes for applying make-up too.

* Put discarded newspapers, coffee cups and so on into the bin or take them with you - no one will want to sit surrounded by your detritus.

* Help people off the train with heavy baggage, mothers with pushchairs and elderly passengers who find the step down difficult. By adhering to some basic good manners and respect for your fellow passengers, even the most crowded journeys can be made more tolerable.

(Jo Bryant is an etiquette advisor and editor at Debrett's, the UK authority on etiquette and modern manners (www.debretts.com). Any opinions expressed are her own. Debrett's has a publishing heritage dating back over two centuries with a contemporary range of publications including "A-Z of Modern Manners", "Etiquette for Girls" and "Guide for the Modern Gentleman".) (Editing by Paul Casciato)

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