17 February 2009

A First Class Dodge


From Time magazine on this day in 1936:

From rich North-Atlantic crossers was rudely snatched last week the pleasure of traveling First Class. In London weeks of wrangling within the North-Atlantic Passenger Conference ended in a flabbergasting agreement by all North-Atlantic lines to lump all their ships into 20 different categories of Cabin Class. Top category: Normandie and Queen Mary. Second category: Bremen and Europa. Third category: Empress of Britain, etc.

Thus all ships will escape the heavy First Class port taxes. The squabble began, because of the advantage in tempting passengers aboard gained by U.S. shipowners in designating as Cabin Class at lower rates the Washington and the Manhattan which competing shipmen said were "so fine as to be really First Class ships." However, into the eighth category went these two U. S.-owned ships.

  After other lines had beefed about this for years, Cunard White Star forced the issue to a reductio ad absurdum by announcing several months ago that Britain's forthcoming finest ship, the Queen Mary, would be Cabin Class and would undercut by $8 the First Class rate of the Normandie. When the Conference refused to agree to this, Cunard White Star handed in its resignation, which was withdrawn last week when the Conference agreed to a U. S. suggestion that from the North-Atlantic there be swept the glamorous First Class. Identical will be rates on the world's two largest, fastest and finest ships, the Queen Mary and the Normandie. South-Atlantic super-ships such as Italy's Rex and Conte di Savoia remained First Class, their owners not being members of the North-Atlantic Conference.

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