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Train passengers reveal the most annoying habits of fellow commuters

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: February 24, 2014

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People who force themselves on to the train while others are still trying to get off have been hailed as commuters’ biggest bug-bears.

A study of 2,000 commuters by online travel retailer, redspottyhanky.com, found two thirds admit to annoying passenger actions like hogging seats with their bags, reading things over people’s shoulders and gambling by sitting in a reserved seat.

The report also found passengers who talk loudly on mobile phones, noisy laptop keys and those who refuse to turn off infuriating keypad tones also ruin our days. While having kids kick the back of the chair, passengers being drunk or eating noisily and people saying ‘I’m on the train’ repeatedly while on a call were some of the most annoying experiences.

Gareth Woodhouse from redspottedhanky.com said: ‘’Sometimes we can get a bit wrapped up in our own journeys or have a lot on our minds and it can make us less considerate of those around us. The ability to put up with things that annoy us is quite a British trait but it’s inevitable that certain behaviours test our patience more than others. Clearly those who can’t wait for the train to clear before boarding or people hogging seats can rile us but with a little more consideration and some common sense train travel can be comfortable and efficient for everyone.’’

The study also found four in ten passengers admit they aren’t a considerate passenger when it comes to taking the train. More than a quarter of passengers is a seat hog and confessed to deliberately placing bags on free seats to ward off others. No surprises then that the same number have been told off or received cross looks from other passengers on a train.

But not everyone is so quick to scold those playing up, more than half the study said that if someone sat next to them was annoying, they wouldn’t speak up. In fact, over three quarters believe putting up with difficult situations is a typically British trait.

But when it’s become too much 55 per cent have moved seats or even switched carriages to avoid a disruptive passenger.

For those with less patience, 17 minutes is the average time a person holds out before finally having to speak up to an annoying passenger.

And 45 per cent deliberately try to discourage people from talking to them, mostly by staring intently out of the window, locking themselves in a book or placing headphones in.

The average commuter studied spent 42 minutes on a train each trip to work and cited not being able to get a seat as the biggest stress factor.

Leading psychologist Jo Hemmings who worked with Redspottedhanky.com on the survey added: “The survey reveals a long list of irritating train habits, most of which will resonate with many of us. Train journeys, especially commutes, bridge that gap between two environments that we are used to, have some control over and make as comfortable for ourselves as possible – home and work. This is why we tend to seat hog, listen to our music or ensure that we try and get off or on the train first. It is a public situation which we are trying to personalise with our behaviour and it is this which annoys other people, who are trying to do exactly the same, often in overcrowded situations. It's a lack of consideration borne out of a desire to create a private, individual space within a very public mode of transport.

“But of course what makes it especially annoying, unlike many of our European neighbours, is that our British reserve usually prevents us from speaking up about our irritations…so many of us quietly fume, make a face, tut under our breath or simply turn away. This sense of helplessness can ultimately make us just as frustrated as the original behaviour that triggered our irritation.”


1) People forcing themselves on when others are still getting off

2) Smelling bad

3) Drunken behaviour

4) People playing ringtones/music through speakers

5) Others kicking the back of your seat constantly

6) Parents not controlling their children, even when they're grabbing at your face

7) People who don't give up their seat for others who need it more

8) Playing music too loudly over headphones

9) Eating noisily

10) Putting feet on seats

11) Eating food that smells strongly

12) People who just expect you to move and don't say excuse me

13) Coughing or constant clearing of the throat

14) People who say 'I'm on the train' again and again on the phone

15) People standing over you/ breathing down your neck

16) People sneezing regularly

17) Noisy games consoles

18) People talking boastfully because they know others can hear

19) Putting bags on seats

20) Talking in the Quiet Zone

21) Noisy laptop, iPad or phone keypads

22) Talking loudly with friends/colleagues

23) Couples getting amorous with each other

24) People snoring loudly

25) Someone hogging the armrest

26) Taking ages to put their luggage in the compartments whilst you wait behind them

27) Strangers who chat you up

28) People falling asleep on you

29) Pulling the sunshield down, when you were quite enjoying the view

30) Someone reading your paper/book

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