Firstly, please do correct me if it is not right/respectful to use the phrase ‘plus-sized’ as I am unsure of how it would be taken as, in other countries/cultures.

Sometimes I face the situation and have seen people face the situation where, I am sitting on a priority seat and a lady boards the train and stands in front of me. I am unable to figure out if she is pregnant or not.

I am afraid that, if the lady is not pregnant and if I give up the priority seat to her, she might feel insulted (again please kindly do correct me if this is not the right choice of word).

Therefore, how can I offer my seat to this person without insulting them if I'm wrong about my assumption that they are pregnant?

Edit: In all the situation that I have faced so far, the lady does not feel uncomfortable to stand. They seem fine.

  • 2
    This question may be useful for you: When to Offer Your Seat :)
    – Em C
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 14:12
  • Also, meta discussion about this question
    – Em C
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 14:21
  • Does priority seat mean first class seat?
    – user1856
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 15:17
  • 2
    As per meta discussion, can you include the location / culture in which this is happening, and who priority seats are designated for?
    – Em C
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 15:24
  • For the record, "plus size" is fine to use
    – Chillin'
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 9:28

3 Answers 3


I Googled the name Susmitha and it told me it is a female's name, so I am assuming you are a female. Thus, I would say you aren't obligated to give up your seat.

That said, you should determine this situation each time while paying attention to the specific person. For example, is she having a hard time standing / does she appear to be struggling? Are her hands full with bags? Would yours be empty? And things like that.

I would err toward the courtesy of giving up the seat if you have any doubt of her ability to comfortably stand, whether she is pregnant or not. This is assuming you do not have a condition or other serious reason requiring you to sit down.

  • 6
    Hi yes i am female. Sure if i find that someone really needs the seat i will give the seat to them be it male or female :)
    – Susmitha
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 2:43
  • 20
    Depending on the country, the poster's gender could be irrelevant. In the U.S. able-bodied adults are always expected to give up priority seats if necessary, regardless of gender
    – C_Z_
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 2:48
  • 5
    Along with what C_Z_ said, the question pretty clearly implies that the priority seats are meant for pregnant women but not all women. It seems odd to reply that women in fact can always use the priority seats - can you explain where that's coming from?
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 4:06
  • It does not "clearly" imply the seats are meant for pregnant women but not all women. It doesn't speak to that at all. Rather, it simply calls them priority seating. Because we are talking about interpersonal skills and not the law, I did not consider the existence of any such laws. The point is, generally speaking, etiquette would not demand a woman give up a seat to another able-bodied woman, whereas an able-bodied man would typically be expected to give up a seat to a woman, particularly one who appeared to be struggling with balance, ability to stand, etc.
    – A.fm.
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 4:18
  • 10
    @A.fm. In the UK at least, priority seats have pictures near them that clearly shows a pregnant woman. They're intended for people who are having trouble standing regardless of their sex, not places to act chivalrous.
    – Pyritie
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 10:10

If you think she is pregnant and would like to give her your seat, I would suggest to give your seat but not make it about the fact that she is pregnant.

All kind of different people needs a seat. I'm young, not pregnant and look healthy but I often find myself in a position where I need to seat. So, even if this lady your considering giving a seat to isn't pregnant, she might still need to sit.

That said, here is how could propose it without making it about a potential pregnancy:

Excuse me, do you need/want to sit?

Here nothing about being pregnant is said, you are just offering your seat. However, since you don't give an explanation as to why you are giving the seat, the other person might wonder and be offended by the reason she thing you have (be it: "she think I'm fat" or "she think I'm an old lady").

To mitigate this risk a can add a reason (other than being pregnant) at the beginning of your proposition. Something like that:

You seem uncomfortable, do you need/want to sit?

However, there is this a chance that the other person thinks: "she thinks I look like crap".

So, there is always a chance that you offense the other party and I let it up to you to decide which technic you are more comfortable using.


The (almost) wordless approach

You could try to use body language to subconsciously offer the seat.

Try to make eye contact with the lady when she is closing in on your position, if she sees it - simply smile, say Hi, stand up and then walk further down.

By catching her attention and present her with positive body language you would (hopefully) present a welcoming feeling to her, so if she indeed is looking for a seat she would feel more safe choosing your seat.

This 'less risky' approach can be without any effect

Of course there's always the chance that she doesn't want to sit there, that she doesn't catch eye contact, or that someone may scoop in and rudely taking the seat without knowing.. However this way you show that you are no longer requiring your seat by standing up and walking away, while abstaining from providing any insinuations, apart from a friendly greeting.

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