She Reserved a Seat on The Train but Was Rudely Told to Move as It’s a Priority Seat, when She Refused the Guard Stepped In

Sarah stands her ground when a woman demands she give up her first-class seat on a UK train. Sarah had booked the first-class seat in advance for her long journey. Here is what she had to say:

1st Class Luxury

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Sarah (32), who recently took a train across the UK from London to Aberdeen. As it was a seven-hour journey, she booked herself a first-class seat well in advance to ensure comfort and space to work.

A Space All to Herself

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On certain trains in the UK, the first-class carriages have “individual seats,” which means you’re not sitting next to or opposite anyone. The space is entirely your own, and you can spread out over the little table. Sarah specifically booked one of those seats to enable her to work.

She was Rude

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When Sarah got on the train and sat in her seat, she realized that the seat they’d assigned her was also the “priority seat.” A woman around 60 years-old got on after her and rudely told her to move because she was elderly. However, Sarah told her that she had booked the seat and that the woman would need to speak to a member of staff to find her another one.

No Other Option

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The woman then pointed out that the train was full, even first class, and there were no other seats available. Sarah apologized but reiterated that she had booked the seat and wasn’t going to move.

She Refused to Move

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Eventually, a train guard came over to try to help. The woman had booked a return ticket but hadn’t reserved a specific seat. The guard asked if either of them would consider moving to standard class if he could find them a seat. Sarah refused, explaining that she had booked the seat well in advance and needed it so she could work.

No One Else Agreed

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The guard then asked if anyone in the rest of first class would mind changing, but no one agreed. Eventually, he took the woman to standard class and found her a seat there.

She Felt Bad

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Sarah felt bad for the woman, but she also didn’t think she needed to put herself in severe discomfort because someone else didn’t think ahead and reserve a seat.

Left Wondering

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Sarah felt so torn and bothered by the whole ordeal, she really didn’t know if what she ended up doing was the right thing. She eventually got home and it was still playing on her mind, so she decided to head to the internet and seek advice on a popular internet forum.

The Internet Responds

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One person writes, “I mostly agree with you, except your last sentence. I’m disabled and travel by rail a lot, for work and leisure, and it’s not always possible to book a priority seat in advance. You can book assistance up to 2 hours beforehand, and they’ll try to help you even after that, but seat reservations are a lot less reliable. If I’m travelling last-minute for work then I’m usually relying on an unreserved priority seat, and hoping that whoever’s sitting in it (there’s almost always someone already there!) will let me sit there instead. I wouldn’t be rude to someone who has reserved the seat already, but I can understand why the woman might have thought that OP was just taking a chance on an unreserved priority seat.”

Another Person Comments

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A second person comments, “I reckon the rail company won’t withhold the priority seating from general sale, as they’re afraid they might not sell it. So they’re shoving the problem onto the customer/train staff to solve.

Having said that, this woman was 60, not 80 – and it doesn’t sound like OP could observe a disability nor that she explained that she had one. My take is that she was being a chancer looking for a priority seat – especially in first class.”

A Final Comment

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A final person says, “It doesn’t even cost extra to reserve seats on UK trains. The only reasons not to, assuming you know in advance which service you’ll be travelling on (which isn’t always the case, to be fair), are laziness, lack of experience/awareness, or train companies not making it easy. I’d say the latter has a lot to answer for: if you can’t reserve a seat when you buy the ticket, they don’t make it easy to do after-the-fact.”

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