Recently, reader Hirsch mentioned how there is a set etiquette when you are on moving walkways. Traditionally, it goes “stand on right, walk on left”. In most cases, people do actually observe this rule. I have encountered cultures, however, that do not follow this rule, and simply amass themselves in the middle of the walkway, making it impossible to pass through. Hirsch mentioned that there is no similar etiquette when it comes to escalators. Why is that?
My Experience in Germany
Although Hirsch has a point, the times I have visited Germany and Austria, people do obey escalator etiquette. They stand on the right, allowing passengers who need to climb faster. Even in airports, where people have carry-on bags, they follow this unspoken rule. It makes the flow of people much more easy, and generally allows people who are in a hurry to make it to the most recent metro.
My Experience in Puerto Rico
As many of you may know, I am from Puerto Rico. Growing up there, I was taught the escalator etiquette by my parents, but since no one followed it, I didn’t either. This means that when you are going up or down the escalators at a mall (for example), you are stuck unless you elbow your way through. You can try to excuse yourself to go through, but most people won’t budge and if they do, they do so begrudgingly.
Why Does This Happen?
I believe this is a matter of cultural perception/cultural indoctrination. Germany and Austria have a very time sensitive culture. I have had friends who lived in Germany, and they were always early for events and meetings. For them, being on time is already being late. Whereas in Puerto Rico, I have seen that the culture is more relax, and more focused on enjoying the moment. I’m not saying that the Germans do not enjoy the moment, it is simply a perspective on the notion of time.
I personally believe that escalator etiquette should be adopted. In many cases, especially at airports, people may be in a hurry to catch their next flight. If there are hoards of people crowding an escalator on the same side, one could very well miss the connection. Even if your culture generally does not follow these unspoken rules, try to use them when you fly. It is an act of common courtesy, and you never know when you will need to run across an airport yourself!
What do you think? Do you agree that escalator etiquette should be followed at airports? Let us know!
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