There are many silent rules be known to a local Londoner that tourists find hard to fathom. During my last trip to London I was witness to tube etiquette first hand and so asked my local LONDON team for insight into the discreet yet fundamental rules of the underground.
Here they are:
- Don’t look anybody in the eye. If you do they will think you are a serial killer.
- Don’t smile. If you do they will think you are a sociopath.
- Don’t talk to anyone under any circumstance.
- If you feel ill do not pull the red emergency handle but quietly wait until the next stop before tumbling off train and vomiting silently into a paper bag.
- If you are lucky enough to have a seat you must look up if new people enter a carriage and check to see if they are in a greater need of that said lucky seat. (Elderly, infirm, pregnant, child) Then offer your seat graciously and discreetly (nobody likes a hero). If your offer is refused then say you are “getting off at the next stop and apologize profusely” even if this is untrue and get up immediately. Be sure to mumble and look at your shoes in case someone thinks you are a sociopath.
- Don’t lean on the doors it causes delays.
- Stand to right of the escalator.
- If you stand on the left you will get pushed up to the top with no consideration whatsoever of your own personal stamina.
- If you have a contactless bank card you need to use this by tapping on the yellow circle at the gate - make sure you tap in and out with the same card or you get over charged.
- Have said card out and ready to tap at the gate or you will hear a lot of discreet “tutting” from angry commuters behind you.
- There will be delays. They enjoy communicating these delays on a regular basis. After they list these delays (all but three lines are not mentioned) they cheerily add at the end “all other underground lines are offering a good service”