Available if Unoccupied

Belperpete

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Just to add to the great reservations debate.....

A week or two back, I joined a Virgin train at Euston. The electronic seat displays in the coach I boarded showed virtually all the seats as "Available if unoccupied". As more people arrived, it became obvious that a lot of people had reservations for seats that were labelled as "Available if unoccupied". Fortunately nobody claimed my seat, but if they had, I would have informed them that it was unoccupied when I arrived, and therefore available for me to sit in.

Do Virgin trains have some obscure meaning for "Available if unoccupied"? Do they really mean "Available if not reserved" - in which case, why not just say "Reserved"?
 
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ag51ruk

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Just to add to the great reservations debate.....

A week or two back, I joined a Virgin train at Euston. The electronic seat displays in the coach I boarded showed virtually all the seats as "Available if unoccupied". As more people arrived, it became obvious that a lot of people had reservations for seats that were labelled as "Available if unoccupied". Fortunately nobody claimed my seat, but if they had, I would have informed them that it was unoccupied when I arrived, and therefore available for me to sit in.

Do Virgin trains have some obscure meaning for "Available if unoccupied"? Do they really mean "Available if not reserved" - in which case, why not just say "Reserved"?
They are only supposed to show that message after departing from the station where the reservation is from, so that it can be used if the person who reserved it doesn't show up. Seats with no reservation at all should show 'Available'.

So this was a fault with the system.
 

Mugby

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It begs the question: What is a reasonable amount of time for someone to claim a seat after departure?
 

PG

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If it hasn't been claimed by the next station then I'd class that as a no-show and so fair game.

Depends on the distance between stations I guess, so if it's over 15 minutes between stations that to me is a reasonable length of time to locate your reservation.
 

dmncf

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I experienced a similar issue last Sunday on a Virgin train to London Euston. I boarded a portion of the train at Birmingham New Street that started there. A different portion arrived, from Shrewsbury I think, and coupled up. Many seats in my carriage were shown as "Available if unoccupied", despite this making no sense on a portion of the train that started at that station, and I believe a few people were asked to give up seats by people who had reservations.
 

BowesRanger

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Just to add to the great reservations debate.....

A week or two back, I joined a Virgin train at Euston. The electronic seat displays in the coach I boarded showed virtually all the seats as "Available if unoccupied". As more people arrived, it became obvious that a lot of people had reservations for seats that were labelled as "Available if unoccupied". Fortunately nobody claimed my seat, but if they had, I would have informed them that it was unoccupied when I arrived, and therefore available for me to sit in.

Do Virgin trains have some obscure meaning for "Available if unoccupied"? Do they really mean "Available if not reserved" - in which case, why not just say "Reserved"?
To be honest that would have been pretty rank behaviour out of you, if you had. If the train is still in the station and someone has a reservation, i think it's pretty obvious you should let them sit in their seat.
 

Stampy

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I had this last night..

Was on the 1900 train from Edinburgh to London Euston (I boarded at Lancaster, and got off at Rugby)

I had a reserved seat, but as there was a family of 4 wanting to sit together, I let them have my seat as there were plenty of "Available if Unoccupied" seats nearby - and went and sat in one...

All fine until the train pulled into Birmingham New Street, when I was approached by a lady saying "You are sitting in my reserved seat" and showed me her reservation - which was correct.

I got up to move back to my ORIGINAL seat (which was now free), yet the seat reservation sign was still showing "Available if Unoccupied" and my ORIGINAL seat which I was now back in, showed "Available if Unoccupied" yet I'd reserved it from Lancaster to Rugby?? :rolleyes::rolleyes:o_O

Mentioned it to the Train Manager on his next lap down the train, and he said he'd "look into it"

Does the system throw a wobbly because the train "sits" at Wolverhampton for nearly 20 mins?? :D
 

Qwerty133

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I had this last night..

Was on the 1900 train from Edinburgh to London Euston (I boarded at Lancaster, and got off at Rugby)

I had a reserved seat, but as there was a family of 4 wanting to sit together, I let them have my seat as there were plenty of "Available if Unoccupied" seats nearby - and went and sat in one...

All fine until the train pulled into Birmingham New Street, when I was approached by a lady saying "You are sitting in my reserved seat" and showed me her reservation - which was correct.

I got up to move back to my ORIGINAL seat (which was now free), yet the seat reservation sign was still showing "Available if Unoccupied" and my ORIGINAL seat which I was now back in, showed "Available if Unoccupied" yet I'd reserved it from Lancaster to Rugby?? :rolleyes::rolleyes:o_O

Mentioned it to the Train Manager on his next lap down the train, and he said he'd "look into it"

Does the system throw a wobbly because the train "sits" at Wolverhampton for nearly 20 mins?? :D
I think you are fundamentally misunderstanding the concept. A reservation from Lancaster should be showing available if unoccupied way before Birmingham New Street on the basis that the reservation holder would have long been in their seat if they actually required it (so the seat wouldn't be unoccupied and therefore wouldn't be available), so the seat would only be available if the reservation holder had chosen not to travel or sit elsewhere.
 

bramling

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To be honest that would have been pretty rank behaviour out of you, if you had. If the train is still in the station and someone has a reservation, i think it's pretty obvious you should let them sit in their seat.
Don’t see what’s so bad about it. Someone settles down in good faith at what is signed as an unreserved seat. Why should they have to move?
 

bionic

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Just out of interest, how are the Virgin seat reservations loaded onto the train? Are they remotely loaded from a central control or does the TM or someone have to do it at the start of the journey?

Personally I still much prefer the old fashioned paper seat reservations that leave no room for misinterpretation (unless someone removes them like Begbie in Trainspotting! :D )
 

BowesRanger

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Don’t see what’s so bad about it. Someone settles down in good faith at what is signed as an unreserved seat. Why should they have to move?
Because if someone, in good faith, made a reservation, and has the ticket to demonstrate that, general good manners and common sense should make it apparent that the sign is an error.

Pretty petty move if you ask me
 

43096

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Don’t see what’s so bad about it. Someone settles down in good faith at what is signed as an unreserved seat. Why should they have to move?
Because someone else has reserved the seat. If/when the guard comes down there’s only going to be one person sat in that seat and it ain’t you!
 

Mag_seven

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Because someone else has reserved the seat. If/when the guard comes down there’s only going to be one person sat in that seat and it ain’t you!
If the guard removes you from a seat that is shown as unreserved, then the guard is in the wrong, not the passenger sitting in the seat.
 

yorkie

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If anyone wishes to propose a change in policy, such as abolishing seat reservations entirely, please use an alternative thread, such as: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/should-seat-reservations-be-abolished.192838/

Because if someone, in good faith, made a reservation, and has the ticket to demonstrate that, general good manners and common sense should make it apparent that the sign is an error.

Pretty petty move if you ask me
If someone, in good faith, sits in an unreserved seat, then good manners and common sense states that person should not be requested to move.

Anyone who requests someone to move under such circumstances, with no right to do so, is being far worse than "pretty petty"; it's just wrong.

If the guard removes you from a seat that is shown as unreserved, then the guard is in the wrong, not the passenger sitting in the seat.
Agreed; the Guard has no authority to do this. I would expect disciplinary proceedings to be instigated if they forced someone to move against their will.
 
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michael74

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So how about this: I have 2 seats reserved on a Cross Country Service from Torquay to Birmingham, the preceding Paignton to Paddington train had been cancelled, the Crosscountry service is well and truly rammed to the point where I can only just squeeze myself and one of my kids into a vestibule as all the displaced London passengers are going to Newton Abbot to get the next Penzance-Paddington service . We get to Newton Abbot (about 7 minutes), the train empties out, I find my seat with a an adult and accompanying child in my reserved seats. I politely ask them to move explaining I couldn't get into the coach, they reply they got on at Torquay too but couldn't sit in their reserved seats as people without reservations are in their seats. My answer (remaining polite) is thats not how it works, you need to turf them out of your seats..... She was very unhappy with me and made it very clear, she went to the people in her seats and they moved (unhappily so) to some unreserved seats in another carriage. I believe I was perfectly right in my actions.
 

BowesRanger

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If anyone wishes to propose a change in policy, such as abolishing seat reservations entirely, please use an alternative thread, such as: https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/should-seat-reservations-be-abolished.192838/


If someone, in good faith, sits in an unreserved seat, then good manners and common sense states that person should not be requested to move.

Anyone who requests someone to move under such circumstances, with no right to do so, is being far worse than "pretty petty"; it's just wrong.


Agreed; the Guard has no authority to do this. I would expect disciplinary proceedings to be instigated if they forced someone to move against their will.
What a load of nonsense... It wasn't unreserved if someone comes up with proof they reserved it.

I dont even see how that's up for debate. Some people are clearly more comfortable screwing people over than i am though
 

Master29

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They are only supposed to show that message after departing from the station where the reservation is from, so that it can be used if the person who reserved it doesn't show up. Seats with no reservation at all should show 'Available'.

So this was a fault with the system.
I suppose that could be why the IET`s have the traffic lights system as it does put that particular argument to bed.
It begs the question: What is a reasonable amount of time for someone to claim a seat after departure?
I was about to say not really but given people sometimes turning up many stations later or some time later I see your point.
Because if someone, in good faith, made a reservation, and has the ticket to demonstrate that, general good manners and common sense should make it apparent that the sign is an error.

Pretty petty move if you ask me
If it`s an error on the reservation system how is the person sitting in that seat supposed to know that. If anything it`s Virgin screwing people over with a daft reservation system and not the individual taking a seat in good faith. Personally I would take this up with Virgin and not make a scene in what is an unnecessary situation anyway.
 

bramling

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Because if someone, in good faith, made a reservation, and has the ticket to demonstrate that, general good manners and common sense should make it apparent that the sign is an error.

Pretty petty move if you ask me
One could quite easily argue it’s good manners and common sense not to expect someone to move who has done nothing “wrong”, no more than sit in an empty and signed unreserved seat, just because someone else has a piece of paper. Especially as that piece of paper hasn’t actually cost them anything.

Personally I’d refuse to move. Better still take the car and not have to suffer such nonsense.
 

bramling

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What a load of nonsense... It wasn't unreserved if someone comes up with proof they reserved it.

I dont even see how that's up for debate. Some people are clearly more comfortable screwing people over than i am though
There’s a big difference. If someone has clearly chosen to sit in a reserved seat then of course it’s fair game to move them. They could have taken the time to find an empty seat but couldn’t be bothered.

However if they sit in a seat that’s apparently unreserved then it becomes a lottery, and I don’t think it’s reasonable for people to enter into that - especially when of course those with walk-up tickets will quite often have paid a *lot* more than someone on a cheap dirty advance.
 

yorkie

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What a load of nonsense... It wasn't unreserved if someone comes up with proof they reserved it.

I dont even see how that's up for debate. Some people are clearly more comfortable screwing people over than i am though
Nonsense. I don't see how this comes up to debate; it's obvious that if there are no reservations then there are no reservations. And that's the policy adopted by all good train companies.

Yes clearly some people are up for screwing people who sit in unreserved seats over, but it's unacceptable behaviour.

They certainly have no legal basis to remove a passenger from such a seat and I strongly believe no moral one either. If the person correctly refuses to move you have absolutely no power to remove them.
 

BowesRanger

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One could quite easily argue it’s good manners and common sense not to expect someone to move who has done nothing “wrong”, no more than sit in an empty and signed unreserved seat, just because someone else has a piece of paper. Especially as that piece of paper hasn’t actually cost them anything.

Personally I’d refuse to move. Better still take the car and not have to suffer such nonsense.
Wow. 'just a piece of paper'. If you have problems with the concept of things proven because they are in writing, you are going to have some pretty nasty surprises in life.

What it costs isnt really relevant, your taking advantage of a situation, that's no fault of this third party, and dont give a monkeys about inconveniencing them... Because y'know them's the breaks, and you've got a seat so stuff this other guy.

Bit of a d1ck move if you ask me, but you crack on fella
 

BowesRanger

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Nonsense. I don't see how this comes up to debate; it's obvious that if there are no reservations then there are no reservations. And that's the policy adopted by all good train companies.

Yes clearly some people are up for screwing people who sit in unreserved seats over, but it's unacceptable behaviour.

They certainly have no legal basis to remove a passenger from such a seat and I strongly believe no moral one either. If the person correctly refuses to move you have absolutely no power to remove them.
What you're saying ia fair enough, if the reservations have been cancelled. But if it is an error on the screens, it's out of line
 

yorkie

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What you're saying ia fair enough, if the reservations have been cancelled. But if it is an error on the screens, it's out of line
I don't see how it makes a difference if the train company has either chosen to disable reservations (e.g. as XC have done today) or if the reservations are not displaying due to a matter out of their control e.g. change of stock, lack of time at terminus, electronic fault, or any other reason.
 

kieron

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Nonsense. I don't see how this comes up to debate; it's obvious that if there are no reservations then there are no reservations. And that's the policy adopted by all good train companies.
It may be that you're talking at cross-purposes here. The original post talked about a situation where virtually all the seats were shown as "Available if unoccupied", which seems to be a Virgin synonym for "reserved", if not the one they normally use when a train is sitting in a platform in Euston.

If a few of the seats showed "available" (or something along those lines) instead, I'd have sat in one of those, even if the seat didn't have the best view out.
 

BowesRanger

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It may be that you're talking at cross-purposes here. The original post talked about a situation where virtually all the seats were shown as "Available if unoccupied", which seems to be a Virgin synonym for "reserved", if not the one they normally use when a train is sitting in a platform in Euston.

If a few of the seats showed "available" (or something along those lines) instead, I'd have sat in one of those, even if the seat didn't have the best view out.
Yeah thanks for clarifying.. That's was my take on things too
 

sprunt

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What it costs isnt really relevant, your taking advantage of a situation, that's no fault of this third party, and dont give a monkeys about inconveniencing them
If I have sat down in a seat that the TOC have told me is available, it isn't my fault either - why should I be any more liable to be inconvenienced than the third party?

It's a terrible system, because apart from situations like this, which pit people who have both behaved in good faith against each other, a seat being unoccupied simply isn't proof that the holder of the reservation hasn't turned up. They may have gone to the shop, or gone to the toilet.
 

kieron

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This system is terrible. But then, so is the system where each carriage contains a forest of bits of orange card, so many of which relate to people who have already left the train, or don't intend to board it at all. As, for that matter, is the one where there are no seat reservations at all, and a group of people who board at an intermediate station may all be able to sit down, but have no chance of sitting together.

There may be a way to manage reservations which works well on heavily used long distance trains, but I don't know what it is.

The only other point I'd make is that, if two passengers do disagree about who should sit in a seat for any reason, Virgin aren't the ones who lose out. They'll probably never even notice.
 

Birkonian

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Two weeks ago and yesterday I got on Virgin trains at Lime Street and above my seat it stated 'Available if unoccupied.' I was in my seat 15 minutes before departure on both occasions. Other passengers also commented about it.
 

RichmondCommu

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I don't see how it makes a difference if the train company has either chosen to disable reservations (e.g. as XC have done today) or if the reservations are not displaying due to a matter out of their control e.g. change of stock, lack of time at terminus, electronic fault, or any other reason.
In that case why bother with a reservation system if the TOC decides that it's every man / woman / child for themselves at the blink of an eye. Might as well just stick to your own seat in your own car on the motorway.
 

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