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Five top tips for getting a seat on the tube

Lottie Coltman

Let's face it – starting your morning with your face squashed against someone's rucksack is far from ideal (depending on what you're into, of course). But that's exactly what Londoners face during the sweaty, miserable hell that is the daily commute. In fact, the only saving grace is if you can grab yourself a seat, from which you can then revel in everyone else's suffering. Here's how: 

1) Location, location, location 

Getting a seat on the tube is all about marking your territory. Spread yourself too thin and you will be subject to counter attack; too concentrated and it's a case of too many eggs in one basket. In reality, you can cover four seats at a maximum. And once you’ve picked your patch, protect it with your god damn life. This is your empire now. If you don't have your wits about you, that sneaky bitch with the pumpkin spice latte will be in there quicker than a sleazy Tinder date. 

2) If in doubt, bribe 

It's time to schmooze the high and mighty that are currently seated. At the moment they are the Kings and Queens of Tubeland and you are just a pauper snuffling in the mud around them. You do whatever you can to win their favour, and let them know that you're next in line. Eye-contact, mild flirtation – give them a bit of the over-priced ham and cheese croissant you just bought if you have to.

3) Judge a book by its cover 

Stereotypes have no place in the real world but on the Underground they could be the lifeline you've been hoping for. Think of it as a real-life version of Guess Who. You see that greasy-looking teenager with slicked back hair and a suit ten times too big for him? Yeah? Well, you can pretty much guarantee he's getting off at Farringdon to work at the dodgy estate agents that never gave you your deposit back. So when the time comes you need to forget about that 500 quid and focus on the new prize. But with space in London at premium, that 15"x15" seat is probably the best chance you have of earning your money back. 

4) Keep your ears open 

You hear that? A lot of people don't realise that the tube is home to one of the most beautiful sounds in the world (as well as its own breed of mosquito, but that's another story). It's the sound of someone digging around in their bag for their Oyster card. Now is the time to focus your efforts. You need to develop a Pavlovian reaction to this sound – when you hear it, aim your derrière in its direction and shuffle as close as possible without looking like a pervert. 

5) Let the bloat do the talking 

I would never advise anyone to don a 'baby on board' badge if you're not actually with child. But if someone assumes you're pregnant just because you have a partially digested 12-inch pizza under your jumper, then who's really to blame? You spend all day sucking in the damages of your weekend excess to impress Tim from accounts: now is the time to let it all go and reap the rewards of your slovenliness. If you're a man and you pull this off, we take our hat off to you. 

For more travel advice, here are seven things you must never do on the tube.

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