Coach Seat Wars

I recently went on an AAT Kings One Day Katherine Gorge and Edith Falls Tour out of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory.

This tour was excellent; from the quality of service, interesting activities, vehicle comfort and, especially, the driver who was not only very knowledgeable about the areas we were visiting, but his driving skills were faultless.

Seating on the coach was on a `first arrive, first choice’ basis, which was fine as the coach wasn’t full, and it was just a one day tour, albeit a long day.

After we arrived at Katherine Gorge, the ultimate destination of our tour, I notice a Rotel coach in the carpark, and began chatting to a very pleasant German visitor who was booked on a 50 day tour of Australia.

For those not familiar with Rotel, which stands for `rolling hotel’, its coaches are a combination of standard tour coach and hotel. In other words, the front half of the coach looks like a normal tour coach, with standards seating, but the rear of the coach is converted into sleeping units of different configurations depending on the number of travellers who are travelling as a couple or as singles.

I was so intrigued that I looked up Rotel’s website, and saw that when you booked on a tour, you were allocated your seat, and you kept it for the entire tour.
Now, I haven’t any personal experience with their system, and it may work very well, but I wondered how I would feel if I was allocated the worst seat on the coach, or was seated next to someone with whom I just didn’t get on, how I would feel after 50 days of disgruntled travel.

Many years ago I used to be a tour guide, these were in the early days of China opening up to tourism, and many days were spent in coaches negotiating often rough roads.
Unfortunately, there are always `good seat hogs’ on every tour. They’re the one who always want to sit in the front seat to take advantage of the better view; and they can sometimes be quite forceful at pushing their way past others to board the coach first.

I found that the best way to avoid confrontation was to rotate the seating, so that everyone got a chance to experience every part of the bus. This decision may have displeased the seat hogs, but it made everybody else happy.

Besides, on every coach tour there is at least one person, and often more, who makes everyone else’s lives a misery by their antisocial behaviour, surliness, constant complaining or just downright selfishness. These are the people who normally try to hog the best seats all the time, so it was often quite pleasurable to make them share.
I never minded their grumblings, because they would have found something else to whinge about instead. I found that if you kept the majority of travellers happy, everything else would fall into place.

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