30% of Americans have passports. But where do those Americans live?

New Jersey takes the prize for the highest percentage of passports issued: 68.36%. At the low end: Mississippi, with just 19.86%.

Via C.G.P. Grey, see the graphic below:

passports by state Which Americans have passports, and which Americans dont?

For the “yes, but…” file: This dataset actually reflects addresses for issuance, not ownership of US passports. That’s because it’s based on addresses at the time of application, so if you got your passport when you live in Los Angeles and then move to St. Louis, you’re in the California stats, not the Missouri stats.

Also, since it’s based on US passports, it doesn’t take into account the sizable non-citizen resident population. So, for example, green card holders aren’t included.

But while these data aren’t perfect, they probably capture the majority of reality.

Data junkie? Hit the raw data directly from the US government, or view the data in Google Apps spreadsheet form, as organized by blogger C.G.P. Grey.

Thanks, Ben!

Categorized in: travel

The Citibank envelope that was in the mailbox when I returned home today contained two new American Airlines AAdvantage linked cards. But, in a first for me, I received both a replacement Visa and a new American Express. Huh?

When I signed up for the card, it was just a Visa. How did I now get two different cards?

The enclosure explained:

We have enhanced your Citi/AAdvantage credit card account. You now have two Citi/AAdvantage cards, including a Citi/AAdvantage American Express card, to access your existing account and credit line. These two new cards – which are enclosed and carry no additional fee — replace the Citi/AAdvantage card you are currently carrying, and provide you with more places to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

Perhaps there’s precedent for this, but I’ve never had a bank issue me a second, different card before.

I suppose it’s a no-cost addition, and since it’s considered part of the same credit line, it doesn’t hit my credit report as a new, separate account. (Their enclosed FAQ’s stress this point.)

But no thanks. My wallet’s credit card space is already fully occupied, and frankly, I don’t need this Amex. (“Waste of plastic” comes to mind.) If I’m using an Amex, it’ll be my Starwood-linked card.

Anyone have a different take?


Some optimism for you on a Friday afternoon: Researchers at the University of California at Davis seem to have come up with a liquid scanner that can tell explosives from hand creams or beverages. Good news, but it’s not ready for implementation yet, as the video below details.

I particularly enjoy the two beverages that they are testing: A bottle of Chateau Petrus and a bottle of Red Bull. Please don’t mix the two. (Petrus? Really??)

One of the biggest problems with the devices right now: The time it takes to scan things is impractical for airport use. And bringing that scan time from 5 minutes to 5 seconds within one year, as the reporter suggests is possible? Don’t hold your breath. 100ml requirements aren’t going anyway anytime soon.

Watch below.

Categorized in: airport security, liquids

Perhaps it was inevitable: Smartphones now control about 35% of the US market, and in response to that growth, hotels are creating dedicated apps for their guests.

But I’m not referring to apps by broad-based chains, like a Starwood or a Hilton app. No, individual hotels are contracting with programmers to create single-property apps.

I don’t see the point.

I’m generally in favor of making things available online, and I, too, have embraced the mobile web. I like the idea of, say, ordering room service using my phone or laptop. (Though I also see room for abuse by pranksters, or worse, if the web-based application doesn’t have some way of sorting out who the real guest is. Knock knock… “You ordered 20 lobster dinners, sir?”)

So I’m all for going mobile. But why would I want to bother downloading an app that’s limited in its functionality to a single hotel?

Maybe if I lived at that hotel for months of the year, but if I’m just staying for a few nights, then I don’t want to clutter my phone with an app I might use once or twice and then never use again?

Apparently hotels think so. In the last month, I’ve gotten several hotels’ PR pitches, proudly announcing their new mobile services online. And each breathless press release has proudly touted an app. I just keep thinking the hotel is wasting its time and money.

If hotels want to make their services accessible to guests online, great. But just make the website mobile-browser-friendly. Skip the app.

Categorized in: hotels

Is your car rental company taking care of manufacturer recalls in a timely manner? Odds are, they’re not.

For many recalls, it’s not a huge deal. But every now and then, something horrible happens — such as a PT Cruiser which caught fire, leading its occupants to lose control and crash. After five years of litigation, Enterprise Rent-a-Car admitted liability, for not getting a hood fire recall taken care of.

Subsequently, the federal government has looked into rental car recall management:

In November, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was looking at nearly 3 million recalled vehicles from General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC that were sold to rental car companies to see how quickly they are repaired.
Rental car companies are not legally required to complete recalls before they rent the cars to customers.

Some safety advocates have raised alarms that some consumers are unknowingly driving vehicles that were recalled and not repaired.

Bob Barton, president of the American Car Rental Association noted, that hundreds of recalls and service bulletins affecting millions of vehicles in North America are issued annually.

“In most cases, members place a ‘hold’ on recalled vehicles so they are not rented until the recall work is completed,” he said.

Because rental cars move around so much it can take weeks or months for the company to find out a model has been recalled, thus taking much longer for repairs to be done, advocates said.

I’m sorry, but that’s pretty weak: If a “hold” is placed on a specific VIN, it can be plugged into the database and blocked from rental. Dealerships are located nationally, so a repair can be taken care of anywhere. This lax attitude shouldn’t be given a pass.

For what it’s worth, the rental car companies are still apparently better at handling recalls than most individuals, “who often fail to get recalled vehicles fixed.” (No specific stat given, alas.)

If you’re concerned about your rental, I suppose you could fire up the internet and check the car’s VIN against the manufacturer’s recall database online. But will you, really?

For your convenience, here are the recall links for Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, and Honda. GM, Hyundai, and Kia, each of which are frequently included in the rental car pool, add an unfortunate hurdle to their search and require you to register as an owner on their website, which you probably don’t want to do with a rental car. Alternatively, call the toll-free customer service for the manufacturer if you’re concerned.

…But will you really check?

Categorized in: car rental, rental cars

istanbul mosque bridge Upgraded: Stopovers in Istanbul, with free tours courtesy of Turkish Airlines
Sure, some airlines let you work in a free stopover. But Turkish Airlines goes one step further and offers up a free city tour on a stopover as short as six hours.

Maybe getting into a shuttle bus and tooling around Istanbul after seven hours on an Airbus isn’t your cup of tea, but if you’re up for it, then focus on the key term in that previous sentence: Free!

From the website for their program, IstanbulInHours.com, some of the details of the six-hour tour:

If you have a transit flight from Istanbul and have more than 6 hours waiting time for your connecting flight, you can visit our hotel desk to join our free city tour and experience the glamorous city that connects Europe to Asia as land and also as culture.

After you apply to our Hotel Desk which can be found at the airport, you will be picked up by a private tour guide and get to see most significant historical places of Istanbul. There are two 6-hour tours daily; one starts at 09:00 and ends at 15:00, and the other one is from 12:00 to 18:00. You will be taken to airport after your tour ends. The transportation in Istanbul and the transportation to and from the airport will be done by free shuttles.

All your transportation, meal and museum fees will be met by Turkish Airlines. If you have any further questions, please visit our FAQ page or contact us.

All transportation, meals, and museum fees are covered? Wow.

Are you going to get a full taste of Istanbul in six hours? Of course not. Will you be tired? Quite likely. But you’ll get a brief taste of some major sights.

How viable is it to actually take advantage of this? Remember, you need to be transiting Turkey internationally, not just making a connection from an international flight. Depending on your destination, the timetable may not make it possible.

Since I’ve never participated in these tours (or even been to Turkey, yet), I can’t vouch for the quality of the tours, so don’t take this as an endorsement, per se. But I really like the idea, so hats off to Turkish for offering this. Bonus points since they’re not just doing it for business class passengers. Even economy gets in on the action.

I’m curious to hear if others have any experience with this. If anyone out there has done a free Turkish Airlines Istanbul tour, post your story in the comments.


Categorized in: travel