WSL Policy On Upgrading Accommodations for Frequent Customers

Nowadays we have Frequent Flier Miles and Credit/Charge Cards on which each purchase goes towards earning 'points' to use as an upgrade on your night flight, or a myriad of goods and services.

Since this system didn't to my knowledge exist during the dawn of the great age of passenger liners, beginning w/Mauretania and Lusitania, what, if any perquisites did shipping lines like Cunard, White Star, Hapag, and CGT offer to premium passengers for their loyalty to one line and/or for paying Full Fare First Class fares?*

*Ah dew believe this is the longest sentence I've ever composed.
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One of the "perks" for customers who were "known to management", as the saying went in those days, was getting one's preferred stateroom with stewards and stewardesses who had served you before.

It was no small thing; if you were loyal to the line and a decent tipper, you hardly had to ask for anything at all after a few trips. Everyone remembered your preferences and respected them. Even dining room waiters knew which regulars responded well to a cheery "Good Morning!" and which did not want to be spoken to at all (the etiquette of the period allowed for individualism at breakfast, if at no other meal; you could even read the newspaper at table and you did not have to speak to anyone. You were, however, expected to be fully and faultlessly dressed, and your table manners impeccable. If you merely nodded at the "Good Morning" of others, that was the signal that you didn't talk at breakfast, and others were expected to respect that, without holding it against you. Even the most persnickety etiquette writers made allowances for human foibles at breakfast).

The small services that were rendered unasked were beyond the comprehension of most people today. A stewardess might help a woman passenger put on a dinner dress that the stewardess knew would require assistance to remove, and know that the woman was not travelling with a maid. The stewardess might well be waiting for the passenger when she went to her cabin hours later, with a kindly, "I thought you might like some help with that dress, Madam." All this without a request from the passenger!

A steward or stewardess might know that you preferred a thin pillow to thick ones, that you used more towels than usually provided, that you got cold easily and needed extra blankets, that you hated a certain type of flower in your stateroom. Every one of these details would be attended to without your asking, if you were familiar to the staff. It was something like being "family", though the tip envelopes needed to be decently filled before you disembarked.

Different times, eh? Now you're lucky if the McDonald's rejects at the airport don't decide to strip-search you.
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A very interesting post. You're right about the "known to management" customers securing staterooms to their liking. Edith Rosenbaum secured herself a cabin in a good location on Titanic. I'm sorry that my memory is a little foggy, but I think it was either later in 1912 or some time in 1913, when Edith once again sailed, and this time on the Olympic. She was once again booked into cabin A11!!! How odd it must have been to have the same cabin (appearance and location-wise) as the one she had on the Titanic!



Thanks for the kind words about the post. Most people today have no idea what service is; they've never checked a coat and gotten it back freshly brushed, they've never been offered a flower for their lapel before going in to breakfast, they've never had a waiter tactfully advise them that their menu choice is not so great today.

The idea of genuine service is what made the Titanic work, in spite of some things we think are very odd today. Your excellent article on Molly Brown's cabin shows what I mean. Mrs. Brown was in First Class, yet E-23 had no private bath, as indeed most First Class cabins did not. It is incomprehensible to people today that luxury accommodations would not include a private bath. What they don't understand is that service made the shared bath arrangement very acceptable.

What went on was that one BOOKED one's bath, telling a steward or stewardess that one wished to bathe. The steward would arrange a time with a bath attendant, and at the appointed hour, the passenger would arrive at the bathroom, which would be clean, stocked with the needed towels, bathmat, and soap, with the bath water drawn. Your preference in the temperature of the bath water (cool, warm, or hot) had been ascertained by the steward at the time of booking; the bath attendant checked it with a bath thermometer. The bath attendant was outside the door, both to stand guard on one's privacy, and to bring anything needed.

This arrangement was standard on ships, on luxury trains like the Twentieth Century Limited, and better hotels. There was nothing nasty or communal about it; it was a very efficient use of costly plumbing facilities (one bathroom could serve dozens of passengers), and the bather got full privacy and cleanliness.

It was a very different world, both in the privilege it offered the wealthy, and in the opportunity it offered the poor. Most people today would be horrified at the prospect of being a bath attendant, with all that tub-scrubbing, etc. Back then, it was a chance for someone poor to have a job that put them in clean, refined surroundings, among wealthy, educated people. It's all in the attitude, and I often wonder if today's attitudes aren't much more snobbish than any seen in the Edwardian era?
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Along those lines, I've been thinking on the subject of ventilation. I live in flat in a building constructed in 1992. My bathroom/toilet has a heat lamp and an 'uptake' ventilation fan. After my morning shower, I leave the heat lamp and ventilation fan on for at least half an hour w/the door closed.

Between baths on the Titanic, or other 'superliners' (Lusi/Mauretania), was there sufficient ventilation in the bathrooms to prevent mold and that 'damp' smell?

P.S. I never knew the 20th Cent. Ltd. had bathtubs for its guests!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I would imagine that humidity was taken care of after each use by drying things with a towel. Unless someone specified a hot or very hot bath, there wouldn't have been too much; baths don't generate quite the steam that showers do. I would imagine there was some ventilation provision, but I'm going to have to leave it to more knowledgeable people here to say what it was.

Any mould/damp smell would probably have been combatted with a disinfectant, possibly a phenol-based preparation like Lysol, which was already around in 1912. Today, we think of products like that as having a disagreeable chemical smell, but in 1912, they were scientific wonders; people would have welcomed the smell as evidence that germs had been dealt with. Remember that there were few cures for illness in that era, so staying well by fending off germs was very important.

The Century didn't have tubs- it had a shower! It was marble, and the time had to be booked; there was one per train. It didn't see all that much use, since the run from New York to Chicago was only 16 hours. But, as a luxury train second to none, the Century had it available if you wanted it.
So one occupying a suite on B-Deck or C-Deck (Including the Parlour Suites) that had a private bathroom and lavatory would have to make a reservation with a bath attendant? Or would the occupant(s) just simply call in the bedroom steward/stewardess at any time to prepare the bath, etc.?
...which, incidentally, would have been the very best way of ensuring that one's bath was of precisely the right depth and temperature. White Star stewards and stewardesses were well-versed in the characteristics and preferences of frequent travellers (which is why they often received hefty tips at the end of a voyage) but, for REALLY personal service, you couldn't do better than your own maid or valet.

I've always believed that the B-deck suites were occupied by Ismay and the Cardeza party and the C-deck suites by the Astors and the Strauses but I now know that these allocations are in some doubt. Nevertheless, whoever occupied the most expensive accommodation aboard the 'Titanic', we can be reasonably confident that they were travelling with personal retainers.
Sandy >>Even dining room waiters knew which regulars responded well to a cheery "Good Morning!" and which did not want to be spoken to at all<<
Funny even then certain people were not morning people. Myself I usually don't open up til around 11 o'clock or so.
I read in TNLO that an experienced traveler could go to the Chief Pursers Office and up grade. Case in point Mrs. Henry B. Cassebeer who boarded Titanic as a Second Class passenger but went to the Purser's Office and with just a few pounds under the desk upgraded herself to what Walter Lord terms one of the best First Class staterooms. She ran into Chief Purser McElroy and supposedly joked that she should be seated at the Captain's table that night. Chief Purser McElroy gallantly stated "Why no, Madam I'll seat you at my table." Mrs Cassebeer did quite well for herself I think.
I doubt it was pounds *under* the desk. There was no need for any sort of subtrafuge. Like any business, White Star wasn't about to turn their backs on a little extra cash. If somebody had the money, and they had the cabin or cabins to offer, you could upgrade.
Hello George,

Mrs Cassebeer was booked to travel 1st Class. She paid £27 14s 5d [the advertised 2nd Class fare was £13] which was the minimum 1st Class fare from Paris. A number of other 1st Class passengers paid the same fare.

Her account given soon after the disaster has her in a room on the starboard-side of D-deck: - Hardly one of the best rooms.
In the same account she also says she was at the Doctor's table with Thomas Andrews.
Nothing agrees with what is in TNLO.

Hope that helps,
Bad info then. That was one of my favorite stories. Ah well you learn as you go. I wonder who gave Walter Lord the bad information? Thanks for the truth Info.

I always wondered at first why Mrs. Cassebeer did it on the sly. It a good story though but unfortunatly untrue. Glad I'm not a gambler those Cardsharps would have a field day with me in First Class.