It was over 100 years ago that the famous and ill-fated ship, the Titanic, took her maiden voyage from Great Britain to the United States. Back in 1912, ticket prices on the vessel varied greatly, dependent on the class of the buyer. But what were they compared with today?
Ticket Prices for the Titanic in 1912:
- First Class Suite – $4,350/£870
- First Class Berth – $150/£30
- Second Class – $60/£12
- Third Class – $15-40/£3-£8
You can see that there was a wide variance in the prices, even in 1912. This means that if we translate them to today’s costs, they can be the difference between a week or a whole year’s salary. Or even two years.
What would the ticket prices look like today?
If you decided you would like to board the Titanic today, the difference in cost could be compared to that of a week’s salary for, say, waiting staff or a bartender, or approximately two years’ salary as an office clerk.
- First Class Suite – $75,788.44/£49,642
- First Class Berth – $2,613.71/£1,712
- Second Class – $1,044.26/£684
- Third Class – $261.07-$696.17/£171-£456
Why is class so important?
By looking at the range of costs of ticket prices, it is easy to see that the First Class suite would be expensive in today’s money. The average salary in the US weighs in at around $90,000 but there is a higher quotient of people earning on the lower end of that scale at around $24,000.
This means that even in today’s costs, only high earners (and therefore people from upper socioeconomic backgrounds) would be able to afford a suite. Many of the unskilled and lower-paid citizens would struggle to scrape the $261 together for a third class place, stowing away in the bowels of the boat.
In Great Britain in 1912, there were still very strict class divisions and, generally, people from different socio-economic backgrounds were unable to mix. The luxury of the First Class suites would have largely prevented classes from being able to mix easily, much less the way lower classes appeared invisible to higher ones.
For example, someone who had scraped together their last dimes for a place on Titanic would be unlikely to have riches, probably dressed in rags. It is entirely possible that someone in ornate ballgowns might overlook someone wearing threadbare rags, seeing them as staff, or blending in with the underbelly of the ship itself.
Decks and halls
The tiered ticket system determined the class of accommodation and access while onboard the Titanic. There were several decks, labeled A to G, which also contained designated rooms and quarters such as ballrooms and halls.
Deck A was the upper and most grandiose deck, which was solely for the First Class passengers. It consisted of staterooms for first-class passengers, and due to the sheer size of the Titanic, these were unusually capacious.
There were also First Class public rooms for socialites, a reading room for those who enjoyed the quieter life, an open lounge for meeting others. Again, as her name suggested, the Titanic was large enough to accommodate a promenade for its upper-class passengers to enjoy musical relief and walk off their supper. The whole ship was designed to ensure its first-class passengers barely knew they were at sea.
Deck B contained the first-class dining room and large reception room. Third classes would enter via Deck C, which also contained a library for second class passengers. D was home to the main first-class dining saloon and its large reception room, whereas Deck E contained the “working passage” to allow crew and the third class passengers access to their dining room on G deck. E also contained third-class cabin spaces.
In the lower bowels of the ship were the boiler and engine rooms named Orlop and Lower Orlop. These lower decks also contained cold storage units and a squash court. All decks contained smoking rooms.
There was a swimming pool and several baths on board as well, many of which were decorated to the height of luxury.
Were Titanic ticket prices good value?
What is interesting is that the voyage of the Titanic would take about two weeks. So although $75,000 is costly for a First Class suite, 14 nights’ accommodation for $12 a night in Third Class, plus passage to a new, promised land starts to seem reasonable.
Of course, knowing what we know now about the Titanic’s fate might put us off buying a ticket, but overall the Titanic’s ticket prices align with those of the modern-day.