In a recent video posted to TikTok, a user who goes by the name @strajca, shared footage from his recent train ride. The clip showed the passenger putting his sneakers on the empty red seat in front of him, at which point he proceeded to repeatedly tap his feet onto the seat.
The five-second video also showed another passenger as she turned around and looked towards the camera. She appeared to have a disappointed look on her face while noticing the passenger with his feet up, before she got up from her own seat.
In the caption, @strajca wrote: “Welcome to Switzerland,” along with the hashtag #sbb, which refers to the Swiss Federal Railway.
As of 15 May, the video has more than five million views, with many TikTok users in the comments criticising and mocking the traveller for having his feet up.
“‘Did your parents teach you to do that at home,’” one sarcastically commented, while another joked: “Common sense isn’t so common.”
“There’s a reason things are so nice in Switzerland, it’s because people have respect for stuff and don’t put their feet up where other people sit, for example,” a third added.
However, some viewers defended @strajca’s decision to put his feet up, while some claimed that it is acceptable behaviour depending on the circumstance.
“I don’t see the problem with this,” one person wrote, while another claimed: “Tbh if the train’s empty, I do this. But if it’s full, I have my feet down.”
Over the years, travellers have shared their candid thoughts about passengers who put their feet on empty seats. In a 2018 survey conducted by Rail Europe, a technology company that provides train tickets for different locations in Europe, researchers found that 19 per cent of participants though “putting feet on seats” was a form or irritating behaviour.
The site also noted that train passengers in Europe could be subject to a $62 (£50) fine or formal warning by police for putting their feet on empty seats.
The Independent has contacted @strajca and Swiss Federal Railway for comment.
This isn’t the first time that a traveller’s behaviour on a train has sparked a debate. Last month, a man was praised on TikTok for telling a train passenger to move from his seat. In the clip, the TikTok user, @mr_boris_becker, approached a woman in an aisle seat and informed her that she was sitting in the seat he paid for. “My place is 103,” he told the woman, referring to the seat number he had booked.
In response, she pointed toward the empty seats at the front of the train, but the man insisted: “It’s gonna be difficult. My place is 103 and I need my place. I’m so sorry.” The passenger said she understood and got up from the seat to collect her belongings.
In March, influencer Audrey Peters earned similar applause for refusing a request to swap seats on a plane so that a family could sit together. “No I’m not switching for a middle seat, book your flights earlier babes,” she wrote in the caption of her viral video.
Amid the online debate about proper etiquette when travelling, The Independent spoke to Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Texas, about how to react when a fellow passenger asks to switch seats.
According to Gottsman, when a parent or guardian finds “there is no possible way” through pre-planning that they could have been seated next to their young child, this is the only point where it’s “of course it’s understandable” to ask a fellow passenger to swap.
However, she noted that in this case, “it’s always best to ask a ticket agent or someone from the travel company if there is a possibility of changing or switching seats before you board the plane or train”.