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I refused to give up my 'priority' train seat to an elderly woman. Was I wrong?

I refused to give up my 'priority' train seat to an elderly woman. Was I wrong?


'AITA for not moving from my booked seat for an elderly person?'

I (32f) recently got a train across the UK from London to Aberdeen. It's a seven-hour journey so I booked myself a first-class seat well in advance. First-class seats on trains in the UK can be expensive, but I decided to treat myself because:

1. I was making the journey the day after returning from a two-week-long work trip abroad and I knew I'd be exhausted/ totally unable to function.

2. I knew I'd have work to do on the train, so I wanted to make sure I had space/ comfort to be able to work.

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

I got on the train at 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 (even first class was full) and there were no other seats. I apologised but reiterated that I'd booked the seat and wasn't going to move.

Eventually, a train guard came over to try to help. The lady had booked a return ticket, but she hadn't reserved a specific seat. For those who don't know how trains work in the UK, if you have an 'open ticket' and haven't also booked a seat reservation, it means you can travel on any train, but you aren't guaranteed a seat unless there's one available.

He asked if either of us would consider moving to standard class if he could find us a seat. I again refused, explaining I'd booked the seat well in advance and that I needed it. He asked if anyone in the rest of first class would mind changing and no one agreed. Eventually he took the woman to standard class and I assume found her a seat there.

I felt bad, but I also don't think I needed to put myself in severe discomfort because someone else didn't think ahead and reserve a seat. AITA?

Edit: Since it's apparently not clear, at no point was I aware this was a priority seat before getting on the train.

Note: Some people say you can see it's a priority seat when you book. OP says there's no way she could see it, but some people say she's wrong.


AbstractUnicorn says:

YTA. The fact you have booked the seat is not relevant. The rule on priority seats is 'A priority seat can be used by any passenger but should be given up if needed by another with greater need.'

While the guard cannot insist you move (unless the person asking you to move has a reservation for the seat - obviously not the case here) you should move if they have a greater need. When booking you would have known this was a priority seat!

Optimal_Promotion879 OP responded:

I absolutely did NOT know it was a priority seat when booking! You're able to request 'individual seat', and that's all, and 'individual seat' does not equal priority seat, there are plenty of them that aren't.

naraic- says:

The train company are the assholes here. They sold the disability seats as the most expensive seats on the train.

SnowGoat222 says:

NTA. If it was a 1st class seat on a plane and someone asked you to move to economy, you’d tell them to f**k right off.

Enough-Builder-2230 says:

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.

Sources: Reddit
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