Cost of crossing Atlantic on Titanic expressed in wages of the time

I’m taking a meandering trip to look at the cost to cross the Atlantic in 1912 versus 2012.

Previous post looked at the ticket prices for various classes of accommodations on the Titanic and salaries for a variety of positions at the time.

I converted some of those weekly salary numbers into annual amounts and then lined up the positions in terms of which class of accommodations people would likely take.  This shows the number of weeks salary it would take to buy a ticket on Titanic.

I’ve excluded the first-class parlors which are about 30 times more expensive than a first-class bed because I’m not sure how to quantify the salary of the superrich like the Astor’s and Guggenheim’s.  Also not sure how to compare a first-class parlor to modern air travel.  A private jet, perhaps?

I think the better comparison is the merely rich, the successful businessman, and the emigrants who were the bulk of the passengers.  Today, as a slightly successful business person I would travel in coach to save money.  (That’s how many people found themselves in 2nd class on the Titanic – they could afford 1st but decided to economize.) 

I can relate to the 3rd class emigrants on the Titanic because that is around the time my grandfather and his two brothers arrived in the U.S. to start their new life in the Dakotas.

Here’s my results of the number of weeks salary it took to buy a ticket on the Titanic:

  • 1st class – 1.2 weeks – 1st class berth for professional at the top of career – Capt. Smith’s annual salary $6300 for $150 berth
  • 1st class – 2.5 weeks – 1st class berth for high-end professional – annual salary of Carpathia captain of $3,120 for $150 berth
  • 2nd class – 1.0 weeks – 2nd class for high-end professional – annual salary of Carpathia captain of $3,120 for $60 berth
  • 2nd class – 5.4 weeks – 2nd class for highly skilled technician – annual salary of radio operator of $576 for $60 berth
  • 3rd class – 4.0 weeks – 2 or 4 berth 3rd class room  for an experienced mechanic – annual salary of skilled shipyard worker of $520 for $40 berth
  • 3rd class – 3.0 weeks or more – dormitory bed in 3rd class for unskilled labor – annual salary of unskilled shipyard worker of $260 or less for $15 berth in dormitory style room

I will compare this info to air fares today.  I don’t know what the exact relationship will be, but I do know the travel costs have declined radically.  Stay tuned for more posts.

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