Elevator Etiquette: 11 Rules for Boarding and Exiting


elevator etiquette

Did you know that there is proper elevator etiquette you should be following when taking part in the common practice of riding an elevator? While a lot of them are common sense, some of the unspoken rules of riding elevators below aren’t used by everyone.

You don’t have to be an elevator expert to be a polite lift companion. Put these 11 rules for boarding and exiting into practice next time you get on an elevator.

1. Wait for People to Exit


elevator etiquette - wait to exit

You might be in a hurry, but properly entering an elevator only takes a few more seconds and is much safer for everyone than rushing into the lift as soon as the doors start to open. Entering an elevator, the right way, involves:

  • Standing clear of the doors as you’re waiting for the elevator to arrive. Don’t stand right in front of them; you don’t know who or what needs to get out when they open.
  • Looking into the elevator to ensure the way is clear when the doors do open.
  • Waiting a moment to allow people to exit the elevator before you enter it.

2. Pay Attention to Elevator Direction


Pay Attention to Elevator Direction

A bit of awareness goes a long way when you’re getting on elevators. Don’t just look to see if someone needs to get off before you enter. Look to see if this is the elevator for you. If you’re trying to go up, it doesn’t do much good to hop on an elevator going down. That will only frustrate you and crowd the elecvator unnecessarily for a downward trip.

3. Use Common Sense When Pressing Buttons


Use Common Sense When Pressing Buttons

Most people, even most children, know you should never just press a bunch of buttons for floors that you don’t need. That causes the elevator to stop on every floor, delaying the trip for all passengers.

But you should also use common elevator etiquette when dealing with floor buttons. Don’t shove someone out of the way or push through three people to push the button. Simply say, “Could you press 5 please?” to the person nearest the button panel.

And if you’re the person near the panel, don’t press buttons that are already lit up. It’s not going to make the lift move in that direction any faster.

4. Protect Personal Space


Elevator Etiquette – Protect Personal Space

Even if an elevator isn’t especially crowded, personal space can be at a premium in this small location. Follow common sense good manners to protect personal space as much as possible for everyone.

  • Avoid bumping into people as much as possible.
  • If you do bump into someone, apologize immediately.
  • Find a location in the lift where you can stand safely and then turn and face the door that will open to your floor (or the door that the majority of people are facing, in the case of lifts with doors on two sides).
  • Don’t move around in the elevator while it’s in motion and other passengers are aboard.

5. Manage Baggage and Other Items Considerately


Be cognizant of how baggage or other items you’re carrying or pushing might change personal space requirements. If you’re carrying a suitcase, large backpack, or pushing a stroller, for example, don’t force your way onto an already crowded elevator. By keeping elevator etiquette in mind, simply wait for the next one.

And when you do get on a lift with other people, keep your belongings as close to you as possible and be aware of how they extend the space you need. You want to avoid bumping and shoving people with your backpack or other items.

6. Keep Noise Down


Elevator Etiquette: Keep Noise Down

A lot of design work goes into elevators, but that work is rarely about controlling acoustics. A few people talking loudly inside an elevator can mean a lot of noise in a small space, and that can be unpleasant or even overwhelming for some people. Plus, it’s just rude.

Speak in a quiet voice when you do talk in an elevator and try to avoid having cell phone discussions or using items that generate noise. If children are with you, ask them not to play with loud toys or shout while in the lift.

7. Don’t Engage in Inappropriate Activity


Elevator Etiquette: Don't Engage in Inappropriate Activity

Yes, you’ve probably seen it in a movie, but elevators really aren’t the right location for romantic gestures. Some other things you probably shouldn’t do in a lift — especially when other people are present — include:

  • Smoking or vaping. Lifts are not well ventilated and are enclosed spaces. If you’re doing any activity that outputs something into the air, other people in the lift will be breathing it. The smoke or vapor will also linger in the elevator to impact future passengers. Plus, there’s a good chance the building you’re in has rules against this.
  • Avoid opening a bottled drink or sipping from your travel mug the few seconds you’re in the lift. In a crowded elevator, that action can cause you to bump unnecessarily into others. In any elevator, drinking can increase the likelihood of spills, which can create greater fall risks for others.
  • All the issues with drinking apply to eating. The smell of your food may also linger in the elevator and cause issues for sensitive passengers, and you could drop food on the floor, creating sanitation issues.

You’re usually only in an elevator for a few seconds. You can afford to stand quietly not doing much of anything else until you arrive at your desired floor.

8. Only Use the Emergency Buttons in Actual Emergencies


Only Use the Emergency Buttons in Actual Emergencies

This is another common sense measure, but it’s an important one. It’s also another example of elevator etiquette that television and movies get wrong a lot. You have likely seen many a fictional character pressing the emergency stop button on an elevator to ensure privacy for a heated conversation.

Don’t do this. The emergency button is for when there’s truly an emergency. And if your elevator is equipped with call features, these are usually reserved for when the elevator has stopped unexpectedly and you’re stuck in the lift.

If you notice that there may be an issue with the elevator and it needs maintenance, report it to the building management. The emergency button isn’t for issues that include dirty elevators in need of cleaning, loose ceiling panels, or buttons that flicker and don’t seem to work well.

9. Don’t Be Rude With the Close Button


Don't Be Rude With the Close Button

Many elevators are equipped with a button that causes the doors to close. This is because elevator doors are preprogrammed to remain open on each floor for a certain period of time to allow people to exit and enter. If you’re the only one who needs to get on the elevator, though, you may not require the entire length of time. You can press the close doors button to get on with your trip up or down.

But you should not press the button to hurry the doors closed when someone is approaching the elevator. It’s flat out rude. Wait the few seconds for them to arrive and enter the lift.

10. Be Polite When Getting Off a Crowded Elevator


Be Polite When Getting Off a Crowded Elevator

On a crowded lift, you might find that people are in front of you when it’s time to exit on your floor. Don’t wordlessly shove through people; it’s not good elevator safety. They also can’t read your mind and know that you’re getting off here. Simply say, “This is my floor” or otherwise announce you need to get off. Then wait for people to clear a way for you before stepping off the lift.

11. Make Way for Others to Exit as Needed


Make Way for Others to Exit as Needed

This tip is the opposite of 10. When you’re in an elevator with other people, remember that they might have to get off before you do. If you’re going to a very high or low floor and it’s likely others will get off before you, you can go ahead and move to the back of the lift when possible.

If that’s not possible, be prepared to stand aside to make way for others as needed. That might involve stepping momentarily out of the elevator on a floor that’s not yours and getting back on the lift after passengers have exited — especially if someone with a mobility device such as a walker or wheelchair needs room to exit.

Elevator etiquette isn’t hard. All it takes is a tiny amount of time, good manners, and a bit of common sense. But it can improve the experience in a lift for everyone, including you.

If you’re a building owner or manager who wants to provide more enjoyable experience for guests and tenants, contact Day Elevator & Lift at (800) 758-5438 to find out about options for upgrading lifts or installing new lifts on your property.