How is the Weight Capacity of an Elevator Determined?

Debbie Centeno
Myself and hubby in a European hotel elevator — photo by the author

Why are Elevators so small in Europe?

Have you ever wondered who determines how many people fit in an elevator and what do they base it on? Hotel elevators in the U.S. are roomy, but have you seen a hotel elevator in Europe? They are tiny — really tiny, like 4x4. Not only that, but they expect it to hold 8 people! What, so it’s two squares per person? How about the luggage? Is the luggage expected to go up or down by themselves?

My Husband Panicked

On our recent trip to Europe, we had a few funny incidents in the elevators. I recall a particular one in Spain where we took the elevator from the sixth floor to go downstairs. It was me and my husband in this tiny 4x4 steel box. The elevator stopped on the third floor and the doors opened. It was an older couple. Though tight, they fit in the elevator. Had it been me, I would have either taken the stairs or waited for it to come back empty. The couple walked into the elevator while my husband and I pushed ourselves against the sidewall to make room for them. We both wore our masks, and the gentleman, but the lady didn’t have one on. She walked inside and faced the sidewall, with her back towards me while pulling her sweater over her nose and face. That seemed fine to me. She was being considerate to us. Meanwhile, the gentleman was fumbling with something in his hand when suddenly it fell. Instantly he went to pick it up without realizing that what separated him from my husband’s crotch was merely two inches. His back was towards my husband and as he bent down to pick up the item that fell, I looked at my husband. The look was priceless. My husband raised his eyebrows, while his eyes popped out as if saying, “Whoa, hold on, sir. Your buttocks are too close to my privates. I do not have any more space to back up. Stop right there!” I tried so hard not to laugh. Thankfully, the elevator reached the bottom floor. As soon as they left the elevator, I burst out laughing.

Too Much Luggage, Too Little Space

The second incident happened in Paris. This elevator was even smaller than the previous one. I dare say about 3x3, though my husband thinks it was bigger. We hauled two enormous suitcases, one small suitcase, a backpack each, and my handbag (we packed winter clothes for a 15-day trip). It was hard to get into that tiny elevator with all the bags, but we pushed, shoved, and crammed ourselves into the teeny tiny space with all our luggage. We snugged tight our backpacks between our back and the elevator wall. While we snuggly pinned the luggage between us and the door. Granted, we could not move, but we got in. As it elevates towards our floor, I see the capacity sign which reads: 2 persons and one bag or 1 person 2 bags. “Oops!” I said while I told my husband about the sign. We both looked at all our luggage, then at each other, before we laughed.

Did we Break the Elevator?

Once the elevator doors opened, we had to push one suitcase forward to hold the door from closing to allow us to get out. However, there was a step, about 4–5 inches, that didn’t allow us to push the suitcase out of the elevator. It seemed the elevator was not leveled with the floor and we struggled to get off it. However, when we were leaving the hotel for our return to the U.S., we abode by the elevator’s capacity rule.

Until today, we are not sure if all the weight put on that elevator with our luggage caused the unleveled floor or if it was like that, to begin with. Just in case, from now on, we’ll stick to the bottom floor on our next trips.

Have you had any hotel elevator stories to share with us?

Originally published on my personal blog, on December 21, 2021.

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My writing journey began as a way to cope with grief. I realized I enjoyed writing and began a blog, Debbie’s Reflection ( I also enjoy traveling. Therefore, as a traveler, I began another blog, Traveler Wows (, in which I share tips on places, landmarks, and reviews on airlines, hotels, and restaurants. Thank you for joining me on my writing journey.

Orlando, FL

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