One of the worst parts of working in a big city like Manhattan is your daily elevator commute. That’s why I wrote this elevator hacks article. There’s nothing more annoying than being late for work and getting in an elevator that stops on every single floor.
But did you know, many elevator manufacturers include a special button combination that allows VIPs to bypass all other stops? These button combinations will allow you to enable “elevator express mode” or “elevator independent service mode” and bypass all other stops except yours. This can be very handy during typical busy elevator times like commute rush hours and lunchtime. So how do you get an express elevator ride? Here are some easy elevator hacks.
WARNING: Elevator hacking might be illegal in your area. Check your local laws before trying any of these elevator hacks. We don’t want you to get arrested, fined, fired from your job, or evicted from your building. Most elevators have security cameras and it will be easy to identify you if you are a regular in the building.
- Any elevator
- A desire for non-stop elevator service
- Key (optional)
Using An Elevator Key
Most modern elevators have a master elevator key. You might have seen your building manager or a fireman with one of these special elevator access keys. Anyone with one of these keys is getting an express ride. You can buy an elevator key on eBay for $20 or less depending on the model. Just make sure that you buy the right access key for your elevator.
Out of all the elevator hacks on this list, the elevator access key hack has the best odds of success.
Independent Service Or Elevator Express Mode (Button Combo Elevator Hack)
Many older elevators can be put into “independent service” mode by pressing and holding both the Door Close and your desired floor buttons at the same time for 5 seconds. If successful, your elevator should go straight to your floor and bypass all other floors. I’ve tested it on multiple systems including older OTIS, DOVER, and DESERT models.
Here’s the button combo sequence for elevator independent service mode:
- From the elevator buttons panel, press and hold the “Door Close” button with one of your fingers until the door closes. Don’t let go.
- While the Door Close button is still being pressed down, use another finger and press and hold a floor button.
- You should now proceed to your floor without making any stops.
There is a drawback to the button combination method. Many elevators disable the “Door Close” button. They are just placebos for impatient riders.
NERD NOTE: Some “Push to Cross” buttons at intersection crosswalks are placebos. The next time you are at a crosswalk, take a closer look at the “Push to Cross” button. While on vacation in San Diego, I got stuck at an intersection that took forever for the light to change. While I was waiting, I took a closer look at the “Push to Cross” box attached to the light pole. There was a gap in the back of the box where you could see inside. Guess what? The button wasn’t connected to any wires. It was just a placebo!
Press And Hold Your Floor Button (Button Combo Elevator Hacking)
Another elevator hack is to just press and hold your floor button. Depending on the elevator model, you might get an express ride and skip all other stops. Just don’t let go of the button until you get to your floor.
The Foot Plant (Manual Elevator Hack)
You can file this next hack under annoying elevator hacks. Firmly place your heel on the floor and the rest of your foot against the middle of the two elevator doors. Or if it’s a small elevator, then just grab the sides and plant your foot against the door. If you have friends in the elevator with you, have them help. The goal here is to use the rubber traction of your shoes to keep the doors shut. When the elevator reaches someone else’s floor, the door will try to open, but won’t be able to and should continue on to the next stop.
I went to Ithaca College in Ithaca, NY. One of the dorms, called The Towers, had an old elevator and we would do this trick all the time. Worked great especially when you were late for class. Most Ithaca College students knew about this elevator hack though and we usually heard lots of cursing on the other side of the elevator doors whenever we did this. Take the stairs, you snobs!
Manually Cancel Other Floors (Button Combo Elevator Hack)
The next time you’re riding in an elevator with other people but don’t want to stop on their floors, then try this elevator hack.
You can cancel a floor selection on several types of elevators including OTIS, Mitsubishi Electric, and FUJITEC. Depending on the elevator model, you can try double-pressing the floor button (Mitsubishi Electric), quickly pressing the button five times (FUJITEC) or double-pressing the floor button while holding the “Open Door” button.
This elevator hack also works great when you accidentally press the wrong floor and want to avoid that awkward moment when you make a bunch of strangers stop on a floor that no one gets off at.
It’s probably a good idea to run a few tests on this hack by yourself before trying it with other people in the elevator cab with you.
Good Luck With Your Elevator Hacks!
If you don’t know what type of elevator your building has, then you can always ask. I worked on a 70+ floor building in Manhattan and one day asked the building manager if there was a secret button combo for the “elevator independent service” mode. He told me that our elevator system needed an elevator key ($20) and that I better not try to get one.
Your success rate at elevator hacking will vary depending on the brand of the elevator, age, and functionality of the Door Close button. If you are friendly with the building manager, security guards, or cleaning staff, try asking them if they know any elevator tricks. They probably know the building much better than you.
Be Responsible With Your Elevator Hacking Efforts
I’m motivated to find new elevator hacks. I hate riding in my elevator at work. It can sometimes take me 10 minutes to get upstairs to the 14th floor with all of the floor stops. Summers are especially nasty. My building doesn’t air condition their elevator bank and the cabs basically become ovens on strings.
When celebrities or politicians are in my building, does their elevator stop on every floor? No. The building managers will use these elevator hacks to give the VIPs an express ride. Why not me?
However, you do NOT want to be in a situation where you are preventing emergency personnel from using your building’s elevators. For example, what if there is a medical emergency and paramedics are trying to take someone out of the building and can’t? Why? Because you are your friends are all taking individual elevators to the lobby for lunchtime with your special elevator key. So please be responsible with how you use these elevator hacks.
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Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.