The most important escalators etiquette rules. Avoid the worst mistakes you can make on an escalator.


What escalator etiquette is

Escalator etiquette is the set of rules to appropriately use an escalator. It includes how to get on an escalator, how to stay on it, and how to leave it.

Follow escalator etiquette to stay safe and respect others.

General escalators etiquette principles

Escalator etiquette is based on three major underlying principles. 

  • Ensure safety.
  • Facilitate transit.
  • Avoid behavior that can disrespect other persons.
Escalators etiquette.

How to get on, stand, and get off the escalator. Etiquette principles to interact with others on the escalator.

Escalators etiquette rules

1) Etiquette to get on the escalator

First, do not use the escalator if you can avoid it. Climbing the stairs is a great exercise and frees the escalators for those who need them. 

Respect the line to get on an escalator. Do not push or pressure others. 

Be careful when you get on an escalator, but try not to slow down the line.

Do not get on the escalators in the case of an emergency. Such as fire or earthquake. 

2) How to manage your belongings on the escalator

Place any bulky item or luggage where they do not impede others. Keep them in front of you, ideally on the next step. Alternatively, keep them between your legs. 

Keep holding your luggage or heavy items all the time. Otherwise, they risk falling down the escalator and hurting others.

3) How to stand on the escalator 

Always stay on one side of the escalator. Do not occupy a full step, or stand in the center. 

Leave one side of the escalator free. One side is for standing still. The other side is left free for those who are in a rush, so that they can keep climbing or descending. Pay special attention during rush hours or in busy transit locations, such as the subway.

In most countries, the free side is the left one. If you are in doubt, observe the others.

4) How to dress on the escalator 

Never go on an escalator barefoot. You risk hurting yourself. Similarly, be careful if you wear flip-flops or similar shoes.

Escalators can be very steep. Thus, some clothes such as skirts or dresses risk being more revealing than you would like. 

5) Respect others & their personal space

Do your best to avoid touching others. 

Do not eat or drink on an escalator.

6) Escalators etiquette for kids

Small kids should be held. 

Do not let kids on an escalator alone. Keep them in front of you, ideally on the next step. Help them get on and off the escalator. 

7) Escalators etiquette for pets

Always hold your pets on an escalator.

Avoid bringing dogs on an escalator, as they risk getting hurt.  

8) Etiquette to get off the escalator

Pay attention and get ready to get off the escalator as it approaches the floor.

Once you step out, do not stop. Walk quickly away from the escalator. Otherwise, you risk blocking others from getting off the escalator and hurting themselves and you.

escalator etiquette mistakes

Escalator etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst escalator etiquette mistakes. 

  • 8/10. Pushing others.
  • 8/10. Stopping in front of an escalator.
  • 8/10. Not allowing a free side.
  • 6/10. Using the escalator when you can avoid it.
  • 4/10. Eating or drinking on the escalator.