Authorities emphasize the importance of taking precautions to ensure travel safety.[12] When traveling abroad, the odds favor a safe and incident-free trip, however, travelers can be subject to difficulties, crime and violence.[13] Some safety considerations include being aware of one's surroundings,[12] avoiding being the target of a crime,[12] leaving copies of one's passport and itinerary information with trusted people,[12] obtaining medical insurance valid in the country being visited[12] and registering with one's national embassy when arriving in a foreign country.[12] Many countries do not recognize drivers' licenses from other countries; however most countries accept international driving permits.[14] Automobile insurance policies issued in one's own country are often invalid in foreign countries, and it is often a requirement to obtain temporary auto insurance valid in the country being visited.[14] It is also advisable to become oriented with the driving-rules and -regulations of destination countries.[14] Wearing a seat belt is highly advisable for safety reasons; many countries have penalties for violating seatbelt laws.[14]

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The U.S. airline industry is chronically in dreadful shape, with Aloha, ATA, Skybus, Eos, Silverjet, Maxjet, and now Zoom having shut down. Midwest merged into Frontier. American went bankrupt and the corpse merged into US Airways, although the surviving company is still called American. Sun Country went bankrupt but is still flying, Frontier went bankrupt but seems to be surviving as part of regional carrier Republic, and most of the remaining airlines are hanging on with a combination of somewhat higher fares (much higer for trans-Atlantic) and very full planes. The weak economy has kept them from raising fares as much as they want, but they're not passing on the recent lower fuel prices. Southwest and Airtran, two relatively healthy low-fare carriers have merged, with the surviving airline Southwest with more east coast and international routes.

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Four giant airline computer systems in the United States handle nearly all the airline reservations in the country. (They're known as CRSs, for computer reservations systems, or more often now GDS for global distribution systems.) Although each airline has a ``home'' CRS, the systems are all interlinked so that you can, with few exceptions, buy tickets for any airline from any CRS. The dominant systems in the U.S. are Sabre (home to American and US Airways), Galileo (home to United), Worldspan (home to Delta, Northwest), and Amadeus (many European lines.) The company that owned Galileo and Orbitz recently bought Worldspan, so the two GDS will presumably be merged. Many of the low-price start-up airlines don't participate in any of these systems but have their own Web sites where you can check flights and buy tickets. Southwest, the largest and oldest of the low-price airlines, doesn't participate, either. Southwest's web site gets car and hotel info from Galileo, but the info seems not to flow the other way. Orbitz one of the big three online travel agencies, runs its own system which is "direct connect" linked directly to many of the airlines.
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