What's The Best Seat On The Tube?

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 30 months ago
What's The Best Seat On The Tube?
Photo by Ged Dackys from the Londonist Flickr pool.

Most of the time we’re packed into an Underground carriage and will take any seat we can get. But what about those halcyon moments when we’re greeted by an empty carriage and a plethora of locations to posit our derrieres? Maybe you’re travelling off-peak; maybe you live at the end of a line and this is an everyday occurrence? Whatever the case, there are seats aplenty.

But which seat is the best to pick? There are so many factors to take into consideration. Let us take you through them and explore the many facets of this conundrum.

The priority seat

It’s the obvious choice. Nearest the exit, only have to sit next to one person and a nice glass panel to lean against. But it’s rightly there for those less able to stand. So we run the risk of being required to give it up once the train is heaving and there are no other seats available. Now we stand when once we lorded over all our seating possibilities.

The second one in

The next best option. Sure we've now got a person either side, but at least we're still near the exit. This means we don't have to push past lots of others to get out. The drawback: those who love the priority seat will sit next to us even when there are plenty of other seats available. To these people we say "No! Always respect the one seat gap where possible!". Of course we're far too polite/pathetic to ever say this to their faces. And we have a special look of hatred for those in the priority seat who don't give it up when they should, thus requiring us to be the ones who make way.

We have a special look of hatred for those in the priority seat who don't give it up when they should.

In the middle

This may seem like a duff choice as we're stuck in the commuter crush. But we're getting off at London Bridge where half the train empties anyway. Plus we're unlikely to have to give up our seat and as carriages tend to fill up from the outside in, we're most likely to have empty seats either side of us. Could this be the one?

The others

For reasons of simplicity we've only covered the standard bank of seats that exist on all tube trains. We're well aware that on the Overground the choice is obvious — the brilliant middle seat with a glass panel next to it. And we all hate sitting down on those hard and uncomfortable fold down seats.

So which seat is your favourite? Or is it all too much, and do you just end up standing to avoid the hassle?

Last Updated 21 January 2016

Continued below.


Depends on the weather as in winter the middle seat is the best because you are further away from the doors, and the under seat heating is lovely and strongest there!


Gotta love the antiquated Bakerloo trains with widthwise seats - park on one of those next to a window and as long as you're not fighting for leg room with the person opposite you, you're laughing.


The flap down seats win. There's more room between you and the person next to you, they are right by the door and they are least popular, so more often free. I'm on a train, not a long haul flight so the priority is taking the weight of my pins, or having somewhere to put down a heavy bag / not having to free up a hand to hold onto a grab pole - comfort is barely a concern.

Lindsey Berthoud

The seat just outside the driver's cab. Lean on the wall to doze and stay out of the way of all the numpties near the door.


Metropolitan Line

Best - any of the non-priority paired seats at the junctions between carriages.

Worst - the seats with a pole to the immediate right, especially if you're forced to sit slightly forwards due to overspilling passengers next to you.

ASLEF shrugged

Definitely the one in the cab. Ahhhhhhhh smug mode....

Mike Paterson

All other things being equal, the seat furthest from anyone chowing down on their breakfast/lunch/dinner. Or even sucking on Starbucks' finest. That said, at this time of year one in the middle of the section. Warm and usually unlikely to be near a late middle-aged standing person whom you agonise over offering up your seat.


Has anyone within living memory actually given up a priority seat? In my own experience, polite young men from southern Europe or southern Asia will offer their seats - but that's any seat, not necessarily priority ones. But real Londoners just hide behind Metros so they won't have to notice the one-legged pregnant women all round them.


The best seat is the drivers seat no one else to sit next to you and all by your self


Look at the useless seating on central line 2 forward, 2 back


The best seat is always to stand?

As a fit and healthy male in my mid-fifties I do not need to sit.

Other people might need the seats and standing is better for your health.


I know it's not the tube, but the best seat has got to be at the front of a DLR through Isle of Dogs. You feel like you are on some journey into the future, plus you get to feel like you are driving the train ! Although I have a Freedom Pass now, I feel guilty that I am not paying for the experience !

Nota Bene

The middle one...every time. In a crowded carriage, you always have more space because it's set further back, never have to give it up because the other seats are closer when a priority needs person gets on, and in an empty carriage you can glare at anyone who gets on and starts moving towards you


I use the Tube Exits app to get on the carriage that will be opposite my platform exit at my destination, only then is the sub-task the optimal seat in the selected carriage to minimise the time to leave the carriage into the exit porch.


Think I'm telling you the secret of my best seat? Pah.