Having a nice seat during a long journey where you can feel comfortable often feels like winning the lottery. So it’s no surprise that some people decide to treat themselves and book one in advance. Which is exactly what Reddit user Optimal_Promotion did when she had a 7-hour trip in the United Kingdom.

However, when she got on the train, it turns out that the operator had sold her a priority seat that is usually reserved for people with special needs. So when an elderly lady started demanding the traveler give it up, she found herself facing a tough decision.

Unsure about the way she handled the situation, Optimal_Promotion reached out to the online community ‘Am I the [Jerk]?‘, asking them to evaluate her actions. Here’s what she wrote.

This woman booked a first-class train seat, but the operator gave her a priority one, which is usually reserved for people with special needs

Image credits: Lucía Régules (not the actual photo)

So when an elderly woman who had nowhere to sit approached her, she found herself facing a tough decision


Image credits: Leslie Toh (not the actual photo)


Image credits: Optimal_Promotion879

Seat reservations for UK trains can usually be booked as soon as tickets are released for sale.

Unless specified otherwise in fare conditions, passengers’ tickets are valid without a seat reservation. They can sit in any unreserved seat in the appropriate class of carriage that they’ve booked.

Most UK train operators leave seats available for customers without reservations (there is usually at least one carriage with unreserved seating). However, if there aren’t any seats available, people are required to stand.


“The trouble with trains in England is that everyone’s so stressy by the time they get on,” Vicky, who is a writer, adventurer, and creator of the travel blog Vicky Flip Flop, told Bored Panda. “Whether it’s because of the timings, the journey to get there, the station, seating or just the stress of buying a ticket, the average train traveler in England seems to already have their back up. You need to be prepared, get there in good time and stay calm.”

Vicky has spent quite some time on trains, and shared some really valuable insights about this on her blog. “When you travel by train abroad – depending on where you are – it can be a much more relaxing experience. [Just] make sure you have some good snacks with you, and look up from your device to enjoy the effortless view once in a while!” she said.

Paul of Global Help Swap, a website that aims to protect the world and its inhabitants by promoting responsible traveling, also enjoys trains as he believes they offer the most social form of transportation.

“Motorway journeys are pretty boring, and air travel is mainly interesting at the start and end,” Paul told Bored Panda. “Trains [cross] some spectacular scenery so put the mobile down and just be. If you are on a long journey and will be sleeping on the train, book 2nd class. You will share your room with other travelers. It is a great way to learn about a place.”


Vicky loves overnight train journeys. “One of my best experiences was in India, where the locals in our carriage were very friendly,” she recalled. “All that time and close quarters opened us up to some fun and insightful chats we’d have never had in the busy day to day. In a huge country like India train travel is great for getting around. In smaller countries like Vietnam they’re a great way to cover the country, but with a scenic view. I’ve traveled from north to south twice by train in Vietnam and I’d do it again!”

Another one of her favorites is Japan. “[The trains there are] incredible and just so precise. It’s fascinating to watch them clean them in between routes, you can book food in advance to be delivered to your seat, and they’re so comfy and fast, it really is the best way to travel.”

Interestingly, conflicts like the one in this post are probably becoming rarer in the UK. Its first-class commuter carriages could be on the way out after officials gave an operator the green light to axe them and free up seats.

With demand still below pre-pandemic levels, the country’s Department for Transport (DfT) ordered train companies to find cost savings, and last week, Southeastern (the operator that runs more than 1,500 services from Sussex and Kent into London every day), said it would scrap first-class tickets entirely.

The decision came after rail chiefs revealed just 28 annual first-class season tickets were bought.


The DfT welcomed the move, with its spokesman saying: “Commuters have often been vocal when forced to stand overlooking empty first-class seats in packed trains. Southeastern has taken action to ease crowding and increase comfort.”

Greater Anglia, West Midlands, East Midlands, and the Stansted Express have all quietly phased out first-class seats in recent years on “non-intercity” routes too.

Northern, the train operator that stretches from Liverpool in the west to Newcastle in the north-east also no longer has first-class fares.

Great Western Railway, which removed first-class seats from the majority of its local train services back in 2016, said it made the move after “businesses changed their travel expense policies in response to economic conditions”.

Only a handful of operators, such as Thameslink and Transpennine, continue to offer first-class tickets on commuter routes.

Here’s what people have been saying about the incident