How to tell somebody they are sitting in your seat!

European Rail How To Guides
This is a rather unfortunate situation that arrises on some trains when you've reserved your seat. Most trains will have a way of letting passengers know at what point along a journey a seat is reserved, this is usually with paper tickets or on fancy new trains it's sometimes on a digital display.

With this in mind there is generally no good reason for somebody to be sat in your seat when you get on the train. However, it does happen, for example people don't see the reserved notice, they intend to leave the seat before you get on but fall asleep, there are no other 'spare' seats on the train etc. Whatever the reason for them being there it puts you in an awkward position when you board the train.

So, here are our tips for dealing with this awkwardness.

1. Be sure that it's the correct seat!

Having personally tried to ask somebody to leave a seat that was rightfully theirs I'm all too aware of this pitfall! Check and double check that you are in the right carriage and looking at the right seat before you engage the other passenger in a conversation.

2. Be polite and humble

You're much more likely to get a friendly response from the person if you use a line such as "Excuse me, hi, I think that this might be my reserved seat" or "Hi, I think we may have both reserved the same seat" as opposed to "Oi, get up that's my seat" or "Here's my ticket, read it and weep".

9 times out of 10 the person will know that they are sitting in a reserved seat and are probably just waiting to see if you turn up to claim it. With a polite request they will usually be on their way. It gets complicated however if it's a pregnant woman or elderly person! We'd recommend reading point 4 in this situation.

3. Show them your ticket

If they don't move on the first request it's usually a good move to politely show them your ticket and involve them in the problem, when it's presented in black and white they will usually just move or be confrontational and rude and tell you to find another seat, this rarely happens, and there is a solution, see point 4.

4. Seek assistance from the conductor

This is the last resort, the conductors on European trains are pretty much always no-nonsense kind of folk who will happily tell a 95 year old lady to get out of your seat. If you can't resolve your seat issues amicably then we'd recommend that you always get them involved rather than try other means!

We hope that's of some use. As we said it's rarely a problem but it does happen, especially on busy routes.