Queue Jumping 'Groups' and General Queue Etiquette

Queues are simple things. There's one simple rule to queuing and that is to stand in line and wait your turn. Many people can't get it right and think 'knowing' someone already queued is a free pass or 'I'm with whatshisface' means instant advancement. I never queue jump, placehold or benefit from queue jumping, so my options are to do nothing but gnash my teeth about queue jumpers or to say something, so I do, and I will tell the person where the queue ends and to join it. They invariably say they know some random in the queue like it matters. I then broadcast in tall man voice that the person is attempting to jump the queue. Queues are not democratic or populist structures. First in, first out.

I am sincerely interested in views about queueing, and in particular, etiquette or rules that do not disadvantage people queuing by themself. In my view things get very complicated when two people enter a store, one immediately queues while the other shops. Shopping further than arms length from the queue is rude. Forgetting items is your own fault. Go around again.

Poll Options

  • 8
    Say nothing when people queue jump.
  • 26
    Say something polite.
  • 76
    Say something passive aggressive.
  • 21
    Say something loud or confrontational.
  • 8
    Dirty stares.
  • 123
    Position your body to make it somewhat difficult for them.


  • +32 votes


    • Haha, very impressed … and as the commenter said:

      EDIT: this video shows just how early education for young children works in Japan.

  • I highly suggest that you never go to China.

    • +15 votes

      I can't +1 this one enough, I got really really irritated by the queue jumping in China, they just don't extend the basic courtesies to strangers that we do in a Western society. No one cares about obeying red lights or no smoking signs there either.

      • Result of huge population and every man for himself. Not saying that its good, but i try to understand why things happen in asia rather than just say they have no morals.

        • Just mainly mainland Chinese. The Asians from the colonies are relatively civilized.

        • +4 votes

          @captobvious: yes. This. People from hong kong and taiwan hate these mainlanders. They defecate any where and everywhere. They spit every where. They are generally loud and obnoxious.

          Case in point. Was on the light rail. The few times it wasn't packed. Two ladies did not sit next to each other eventhough they appear to be together. They could sit next to each other but didn't. Then proceeded to have a very loud conversation.

        • Agreed. It's dog eat dog in China. So while I'm there on holidays I'm with the locals and strategically trying to worm my way to the front. The question is.. I've paid for the train ticket, do I actually want to physically get on the train and land a seat before it departs? Survivor style.

          Even when you're at the airport in a single line queue, you have people pushing their trolleys and hitting your ankles multiple times. There is no concept of personal space in a highly populated city, it's just culture, not a personal attack.

          If you've been to some toilets, I would understand why it is better to go outside the toilet block. That said, having someone instructing their kid to go while you're standing 50cm away (3m outside the actual toilet block) is a bit disconcerting. When in China, avoid all random 'puddles'.

        • +3 votes

          @greenplastix: my sister went to forbidden city. did not take long for her to witness a mother tell her child to squat down and take a dump then and there. the kid was wearing this split pants. when the kid crouched down it splits open.

        • @xoom: LOL

        • @greenplastix:

          Even when you're at the airport in a single line queue, you have people pushing their trolleys and hitting your ankles multiple times.

          Sadly, I have experienced these trolleys hitting ankles from behind, a few times now here in Oz while queueing to clear customs. They can be rather painful. I am very wary of this now. As someone said, it is not as if you can get to the front of the line faster, so I am mystified by why these people have to push so close to other human beings.

        • @xoom: I saw this happen in Syndey

        • @captobvious:
          I disagree. I'm traveling right now in the Asian region and the queue etiquette was shocking

        • @trev likes bargains: which asian region? Chinese mainlanders have infiltrated much of australasia unfortunately.

        • +1 vote

          so true there, i've actually been able to tell the difference between hong kongers and people from china simply from who is courteous and shows manners when i'm in HK. have asked my hk friends there and they've been suprised how accurate i've been for a gweilo lol

        • @greenplastix: Those trolley pushes, are they much like the pram pushers? Because those people are real bullies! We tend to notice they often don't/won't speak English.

    • LOVE this comment!

      We were in Russia recently and were queuing up to see a piece of Da Vinci's artwork when a massive chinese tour group came in and literally pushed the people waiting at the front out of the way, got their ipads out and started taking the shots. The British people at the front of the queue tried to explain to them about queue etiquette but of course this went right over their heads!

      • on a side note, i hate it when people take photos on their ipads!!!

        The camera is terrible, its obtrusive, inconvenient… i don't get it!

        • +3 votes

          hate this too. was at darling harbour watching the fireworks. the family in front kept taking photos with an ipad obstructing the view from people directly behind them.

    • Most places other than Australia from what I've seen. Even in continental Europe they seem to only have a loose idea of queues.

    • It's actually pretty good these days. Went to Shanghai in early 90s and had to exchange some money at the bank. It was a no holds barred free for all. You literally had to fight your way to the front of the queue to reach the bank teller. Felt sorry for the older customers in the queue. The concept of common courtesy was just non existent. It was all about survival of the fittest!

      • Yeah nah I was there 2 months ago.. Shanghai is the most western and least stuffed place in China.. Rest of it is still stuffed.

        • Hong Kong might top Shanghai, at least no one is pooping on the street there

        • @buckster:

          Oh Hong Kong is like a completely different planet compared to China. You can spot a main lander from miles away.

          I witnessed two people pooping on the street during my time in China. Also a pedophilic grandfather that twiddled his grandchilds wang whilst whistling. And about 7 vehicle crashes. And a child being told to pee into the drainage hole in the middle of a public bathroom floor. Honestly I could go on for days about my trip to China and all the horrible experiences I had.. Appreciated the place and all of its wonders after I had left but whilst I was there I would have taken a one way flight out of there at the drop of a hat.

        • @buckster: yeah but they still squat on top of the seat, generally miss and shit all over the seat so you can't actually use the thing.

        • @thorton82: I see that you work where I do. Tip - Use the bathrooms down in the morgue, they're always so clean!

    • +2 votes

      Or the middle east.

    • No need, enough of them are already here :P

    • unfortunately the Chinese here are doing the same here, whether it is peeing/pooping or queuing…….

    • just came back from korea not too long ago and they're bloody rude over there. Mainly the old ppl who think they're top shit on the trains. By the time I left I swore I was gonna drop my shoulder into the next person that tried to push their way onto the train. Unfortunately didn't get the chance to as I left.

      btw I'm 104kg :D

    • And India too

    • I loved the "training" videos in Shanghai Metro that show people how to queue properly.
      In the video, there's the evil white guy jumping the queue, and all the locals show him how to do it right.

      • sadly all the locals will learn from this is only foreigners misbehave when it comes to queuing and locals are doing the right thing at all times.

    • I heard that they build human wall in China and that's not enough people crawl under between legs :O
      There was Apple Store riot in China a few years ago people queue jumping and injured themselves. One of the reasons Apple started online reservation since

    • Kind of same in india as well, there are queues but they dont keep distance you will get sandwiched in the pushing from behind. Like its gonna bring you to the front quicker.

    • I found it quite funny hilarious about the queuing etiquette in China. They would have these workers at train stations to monitor the queue but when the trains arrives, its a mad rush to get in and get a seat as fast as possible and the workers try so hard to shove as many people in as much as possible. Suffice to say, I would say their public transport system is far more ahead compared to the Australian Public system and quite efficient as well and extremely crammed…. It was a wonderful experience.

    • LOL! :-)

    • I was watching the Bangkok Airport TV show once and the officious lady airport worker told two tourists to forget their excuses and go to the back of the line. It was instant love.

      Regarding Sheldon, as if he would leave his N64 at his mum's house and his desk calculator is not scientific (looks at graphing calculator collection). :p It could never work.

  • +12 votes

    People should be outspoken when others are anti-social, people who do this sort of stuff are bullies as they are relying on peoples fear of confrontation and potential retaliation.
    I often end up in confrontations as a result of speaking out, and it does shake me up sometimes but I feel it is a responsibility as community member.

    Like that poem about not speaking out and then it is too late as there is no-one left to do so.

    • +2 votes

      Must have jinxed myself here i've copped it twice in 12 hours.
      Dude at traffic lights hitting his horn as soon as it turned green so I tell him thats not acceptable and both he and his girlfriend start threatening to beat me up. Btw I am female and have my elderly mother in the seat next to me.
      Then on the peak hour train young guy lying across a whole seat calls me a f-ing mf and swings at me when I ask him to sit up so I can have a seat.

      • weird night on the roads for me, too. was there some planetary alignment bringing out all the human cockroaches? lol

        bald git in a ford 4x4 ute speeding up to prevent me from overtaking him.

        coming up to a set of lights and the hyundai accent that was in the right lane, suddenly changes to the left lane where i am (both lanes go straight ahead only). but i know the lights are going to turn green very soon so i change lanes and floor it past the (profanity) who was trying to out-merge me.

        • +1 vote

          I like the human cockroache reference. It hits on the problem, they keep breeding unchecked and there is no mechanism to stomp them out.
          Really though no decent public role models and no incentive to conform to polite society. Tv and movies are also full of those human cockroaches.

        • +3 votes

          @tonka: and professional sportsman. every other week it seems there's a meat-headed ball-kicker/thrower doing something stupid.

          society has no manners any more. it's evident parents aren't/can't teach their children to behave; it's high time to bring civics back into the classroom.

        • @tdw:
          Okay Grandpa

        • +3 votes

          @Lunatic: grandMA. get your gender pronouns correct, whippersnapper.

  • It very much depends on the circumstance whether I speak up or not.

    With elderly, and people struggling with a few small kids etc, I generally give them a pass.

    If it is likely a migrant from a culture not accustomed to queuing, I would say it politely - to let them know what the cultural norm here is. (Since I most likely also have committed cultural faux pas during travel, or dealing with people of a different culture, I would give the person the benefit of the doubt - that s/he is acting out of ignorance, rather than a deliberate attempt to take advantage of the situation).

    If the queue-jumper is young, and most likely brought up here, who should know better, then I would have no hesitation saying something. But always politely.

    • Yep, no problem there. Last election I asked an attendant to speed through an electric wheelchair rather than wait in the rain with the masses. I'm definitely talking about voluntary acts of wanton queue jumping here. In your face acts of self importance and my time is more precious than yours faux snobbery. Not only do they want to jump the queue, but you're there with little else to do than watch and they think you won't see or say something. It's a double insult.

  • I suppose what grates with me is lame excuses, like "I'm with him" and such. Another one of my pet cantankerous middle aged geezer peeves is people sneaking into my apartment building using my key as I walk through the door. There is a $4000 fire callout fee for false alarms, so unsolicited guests are a no-no. You can tell the sneaky people as they hover and whistle towards the air and then in the door reflection you see them sneaking in. I ask them politely and assertively if they have a key. They usually say they know such and such or are here to see whomever. No. Sneaking into buildings is wrong. Last guy I asked if he had a key responded with 'in the office' a bit dumbstruck. I asked 'your key is in the office?' and he says he's going to the office. His first answer was a vague lie and the second dodgey as heck.

    • We all have keys to the foyer door of our apartment complex. We all have intercoms that can let people in if they have visitors. But hey thats in too hard basket. Lets just jam a brick in the foyer door and leave it open because we are lazy (profanity).

    • You're just like Jerry in that episode of Seinfeld with the dead parrot.

    • There is a $4000 fire callout fee for false alarms

      Are you referring to fire alarms?

      EDIT: I can't read, it says fire right there, my bad. $4000 seems a lot…but what does that have to do with anything??? Have you established that it is these people setting off smoke alarms? Wouldn't the person responsible for setting off the alarm be liable for the callout fee?

    • people sneaking into my apartment building using my key as I walk through the door

      Ugh tailgating. I live in a uni residence apartment building, literally right next to the campus centre, this happens all. the. (profanity). time. People just mosey in to have a look, or come here looking for a lecture hall. Read the bloody sign morons, it says 'residents only', what lecture hall do you know of has mailboxes and a laundry in the foyer? Makes my blood boil, absolute (profanity).

  • cropdust the crap out of them

    • When you cropdust a little too vigorously, don't you risk cropdusting the crap out of you instead? :-)

      • No matter how vile my stench, I always appreciate my abilities. My biggest concern is keeping a straight face.

        I once caught a train in India, and when I was about to sit in the soon to be vacant seat, some Indian guy literally run past me to sneak in, as I was half way in the seat. Ok I thought, your head is now next to my but, and I had a spicy curry for breakfast. I am surprised he didn't,t feel the wind hit his ear hole. That my friend is justice for jumping a queue.


          Such an undervalued ability and one I also treasure and like to employ if possible when in the presence of rude shop assistants.
          I have previously wondered whether there is an decent artificial aid or simulator available specifically for use with queue jumpers and the rude shop assistants. It would be so much more satisfying and effective than just vying for the last word.

  • It just boil down to manners or lack thereof. People who choose to live in a civilised society must accept there will be rules they may or may not agree with but always know it applies to others also.

    Their mentality is usually i dont care about the rules so long at it doesnt affect me but when it does i should be able to do what i want or im being singled out.

  • It's best to be polite. Some honestly don't realise they are doing something wrong because they were raised that way. Educate people instead of berating them.

    Unless they're punks then all bets are off.

  • I'm usually polite in telling people where the queue is, but oune time
    some self entitled parents took it too far. I was waiting for the toilet when a dad and kid came in and pushed in. While they were inside another dad and kid arrived and then began to enter when the previous ones left. Rather than confront them I just put my arm out and stopped them from going in before me.

  • I have no idea what is with people but gee it's annoying. What has happened to basic manners. Working in retail I am noticing more and more people expecting to be served first because they only want 1 thing or it won't take long then getting angry when you point out that no it doesn't work like that.
    I especially like the 'I will stand next to you and slowly push my way in', See that one a bit.

  • So happy to see this being spoken about. I have had it with queue jumping and am down to the last couple where I am going to keep my cool. There are two that are particularly irritating.

    1. The bus jumper. Everyone is queued up for the bus, looking down the street to see if the bus is coming. Someone then just drops themselves on the front of the line when no one is looking.

    2. The forgetful shopper. This happens particularly at the supermarket. Typically they've already bought have the store and then realise they've forgotten some critical item. They then hold up the entire queue while they retrieve said item to add to their purchase. I see this as a queue jump. If you've forgotten something, purchase the first lot then go around again. If the person just abandons their purchase mid-transaction, the whole lot should be cancelled and they can go around again with the whole lot.

    • regarding the forgetful shopper if they have left their stuff just sitting there on the conveyor maybe you could add a few things to their pile like some magazines, a few mars bars, some tic tacs or batteries basically the most expensive junk in arm's reach

      • A colleague's partner used to do this, best story was him putting his watermelon on the belt when the attendant had turned around to help the staff behind them and it going through and the shopper taking it home unaware

    • I regularly jump bus queues, but only because no one in the queue seems to realise they're all waiting for different busses… Ignoring anarchy doesn't count imo :)

    • OMG that bus one! There's people (of a certain kid, grandma with the visor hat and trolley) who pushes in front to "see" if the tram is coming - ffs there's a sign! This is so she could be at the front and get in front of the line!! Three completely packed trams, I was there on time but sure didn't make it to work on time.

  • Once while lined up in an extremely long line at the express checkouts, a lady walked up to the front of the line turned and "stated" to everyone behind her, you don't mind if I go first do you, I've only got a few things. She was promptly told by many to get to the back of the line like everyone else, she really couldn't see why there was an issue. I just couldn't believe she thought it was ok, is was the express lane, we all only had a few items. We then got to enjoy the rest of our line up time listening to her complain about the rudeness of people these days!!

    • Wow. That's one entitled attitude. Wonder how often she's gotten away with it to think ppl are rude for not allowing her to do it that time round.

  • My husband and I were at Aldi at 8:00am on Saturday hoping to get the Saturday bargain. Although only opening at 8:30 there were six ppl already waiting. Come 8:25 some woman arrives could be mid fifties grabs a trolley and blatantly walks almost to the front of the queue right past us. I swore that she would not get in before me without a battle. I won lol. BTW I am a lot older than her.


    None.You are mostly wrong

  • Ahhhh… The old "Chat and Cut" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77bW1aMAkhs

    Watched this episode of Curb your Enthusiasm just the other night and your post reminded me of it :D Larry David sort of says what we all wish we could say! haha!

    • Good funny clip! :-) Thanks.

    • I'm a say something sort of person :p An old bloke picking cashews from mixed nuts with his hands and putting the rest back in a supermarket dispenser threatened me with his boxing prowess. It's actually really interesting watching people bluff and lie. I asked him what his boxing name was.

      • Oh My God I wish I could see that :D

        • One fun occasion was queuing for a bank and a middle aged guy was blowing his top at the counter about some matter of great importance. He was really worked up and creating a scene. Staff couldn't do much so I asked him if this was a stick-up and he lost all concentration and continuity.

        • @Frugal Rock: Dying :'D

          The world needs more people like you.

      • Reminds me when we were at Aldi and SOMEONE (mother's nephew, who IMO I am most certainly not related to - he's from china/raised) opened the berry packs and started to mix and match them, picking out each single blueberry, and then doing the same with strawberries. If I was an outsider I'd say it's a mental illness, but because we know how, we know he's just one of those people.

  • If it's one person taking the place of another, what's the issue?

    Of course, holding a place in line for 10 people is worthy of bikies.

    • This happens quite frequently in Apple Iphone launches and during celebrity trials for the public gallery when queue stand-ins get hired and replaced at the last minute.

      The arguments against:

      Is it 'fair' to everyone, particularly people queuing by themself.
      Are hired people acceptable stand ins.
      Transferability and whipping boy tactics are not a 'right' in other circumstances and not implied. If a prison penalty is given, why not pay a homeless person to do the time.
      In supermarkets, can someone queue straight away and let the other shop and then cut in when it suits?

      In airports it happens a lot, and the person in the queue is ready to be served before the real person and they have to wait at the front of the queue with bags and it causes stupid disruption.

      I accept that there are elements of greyness, but it's certainly not a given that queue replacement is acceptable. The only truly egalitarian solution is everyone queues for themself. Replacements allow rorts and abuse. Why should single people constantly come out second best to groups.

  • People from China are so well known for queue jumping or not queuing at all. They don't seem to have any etiquettes or want to learn. See for yourself at Ferry to NY Staten Island, elevators at Eiffel Tower, Disneyland, ferries, train platforms, etc etc. Blatant behaviours.

  • I'm normally a silent fumer, or (as in the case when an Italian mother and daughter rudely and dismissively cut in front of us in Montserrat, ironically while waiting to see the Madonna) a cough-repeatedly-and violently-on-the-back-of-the-antagonist's-head passive-aggressive.

    The only time I've spoken up was while queueing solo for the Game of Thrones exhibition in Sydney. Joined the already-long queue at 7am, and a while later some extras joined the group in front of me.

    To be fair, they did ask me if I minded, and so I did something very uncharacteristic for me, and said "That's fine - but in that case, do you mind if I go in front of you?" They were a bit taken aback, and so said OK.

    So I moved in front of them, feeling very chuffed that I had handled the situation to my advantage.

    I noticed one girl was keeping slightly ahead of me, so I kept asserting my new-found right to go in front of them. Then she said to me, "do you know the people in front of us?" Turned out she wasn't with the group after all, and thought I was trying to cut in front of her (which I inadvertently was!)

    So I apologised, we had a laugh, and chatted for the next couple of hours in the queue and went around the exhibition together!

    • To be fair, they did ask me if I minded, and so I did something very uncharacteristic for me, and said "That's fine - but in that case, do you mind if I go in front of you?" They were a bit taken aback, and so said OK.

      To be honest, I don't think that's fair either. Just you moving in front of them, and no one else behind you moving forward, means the line as a whole is inconvenienced.

      • That's true… but sometimes you gotta let people fend for themselves.

        If they see that you don't have to put up with their shit, then they might be inspired to say something.
        "Hey, I didn't give permission to you cut in front of me" etc etc.

        If we always baby society, then it will all "evolve" into a Feminist Utopia:

        • That's a very poor attitude to have.

          When I speak up because someone has attempted to cut to the front of a line, I am doing so because of how rude it is to the entire line. Not because it inconveniences me personally.

          You're not as bad as the queue cutter, but you're damned close.

        • @ThithLord:
          No, no, no.
          The two are dimensions apart.

          When I speak up I do so for the whole crowd.

          Im just saying sometimes noone speaks up or does something. This happens to you over and over again. And this takes away from your faith in humanity.

          In that mindframe, you will possibly also cut in front of the cutter to prove your point. You just have to display that you don't take crap from them, and their usual grubby tactics won't work on you.

          Unless thwyre really old ethnic women.
          That demographic has immunity for some reason.

        • @ThithLord:

          Hardly. Cue jumpers only get their way from the tacit consent of everyone behind them. If everyone behind, were to copy kiitos actions, it would achieve the same thing as the que jumper joining the back of the line, not to mention being very embarrassing for the qj. There is no obligation to stand up for those who don't stand up for themselves, and who especially wouldn't stand up for you. But just by standing up for yourself, you show everyone whats possible, and make it easier for them to follow suit.

          Then again, what he did wasn't so much that, and more making a deal. He's a dirty dealer.

  • The only queue I really find myself in is on the m1 at eight mile plains.. And I let drivers in because I realize I'm just going home or to work to procrastinate anyway.

    As for general queues.. I like to stand the wrong way round sometimes just to see what people do.

    I don't really care about queue jumpers because life's too short for fighting and fussing my friend.

    • Nice and philosophical, but saying something can be kinda funny and an entertaining way to spend the time. It certainly seems to make the waiting time scoot :) Saying nothing and fuming, for me, would be the slow road to vexation.

      • Yeah I don't mind others saying something for entertainment value. I have a friend who is kinda like Elaine off Seinfeld and isn't afraid to pull strangers up.. We were once on a packed escalator and no one was walking with it, she yelled out "come on people let's keep it moving, it's not a bloody ride'