Sunday, November 3, 2013

First Class vs Economy Class International Travel: One Hundred Years Ago

Folks who travel economy class on international flights not only have to endure narrow seats, insufficient leg room, lamentable meals, and, sometimes, smelly neighbors, they also suffer when they get a glance at what they are missing by not sitting in the front of the plane, where first class customers in wide, plush seats are fussed over by a host of attendants catering to their needs.  The plight of the economy class customers crossing an Ocean is not one to be envied.

Fortunately for them, they are better off than their counterparts who traveled across the Atlanta Ocean a hundred years ago. Then, the discomfort of second and third class passengers lasted days, even weeks, instead of a few hours. The folks on the crowded economy class decks had plenty of time to observe the luxuries of first class passengers who enjoyed spacious accommodations and memorable meals with their fellow well-off shipmates.

These following post cards show the contrast between the facilities for first class travelers and those for travelers of lesser means with second or third class tickets. First, four postcards from the Hamburg Line showing the accommodations for first class passengers on one of its ships traveling between Europe and the United States:

Sleeping Cabin, 1st Class

Dining Room, 1st Class

Smoking Salon, 1st Class
Walking Deck

In contrast to those facilities, here is a post card showing how the other classes traveled on these trans-Atlantic boats. In this case, most of the people on the top deck are likely immigrants traveling to the United States.

The postcard title (upper left corner) in German and Italian is "Immigrant Ship". It was mailed in 1913

The next time I am stuck in the back of an airplane headed to Amsterdam or Paris, I will recall that things would have been worse if I were traveling the same route 100 years ago. 

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