Census data insight into the American traveler

Among the many interesting and strange facts included in the just-published Census Bureau's 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States are a few tidbits that relate to the way we travel.

Anyone with access to the media, the healthcare system, or any human contact knows that as a country, we've got a bit of a weight problem. But as it turns out, as a nation, we're taller as well, suggesting that we're morphing into a country of giants. This trend is in direct contrast to the shrinking legroom on planes, and begs the question: Who will win, profit or physiology? A questions for the ages, like nature or nurture, or paper or plastic.

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The other travel tidbit is an assurance that if you book travel online, you're in good company. That's because last year, 91 million people booked travel online. That's almost a third of the population of the U.S.

To get a better sense of why airport security lines are so slow, consider this: 738.6 million passengers went through airport screening in 2005, and 9.4 million lighters were confiscated.

The full report, with 1,400 charts and tables, is available online. The New York Times (subscription required) has a more digestible overview of the abstract.

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