Hyatt Regency puts guests in hurricane danger, Visa and Mastercard to raise fees and Google tells you the best time to buy tickets (Saturday Selection)


A Hyatt Regency in Florida lied to guests and put them in the path of a hurricane, Visa and Mastercard look to raise merchant fees and Google Flights debuts a new “best time to buy” feature. All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).

Hyatt Regency appears to lie to guests, putting them in danger before Hurricane Idalia

a truck driving through water
Pulling into the valet line at Hyatt Regency Clearwater beach

I grew up in the Midwest and tornado watches and warnings were a regular feature of summer life, so much so that it was easy to get a little complacent about heeding the various weather warnings and sirens. Evidently, the folks at the Hyatt Regency (HR) Clearwater, Florida have the same issue. Four hours after county officials ordered all residents to evacuate in anticipation of Hurricane Idalia’s landfall, the Regency slid notes under room doors and e-mailed incoming guests telling them that there was no evacuation order for the property. 24 hours before landfall, while every other hotel on Clearwater Beach was empty or forcing the last guests to evacuate, people staying at Hyatt Regency had no idea that they were even in an evacuation zone. According to the Tampa Bay Times, local officials said that the hotel was, “negligent” and that they “put people’s lives in danger.” Although it sounds like it, they weren’t talking about the quality of the breakfast buffet.

Are Visa and Mastercard raising fees again?

a stack of coins with blocks on top

According to The Wall Street Journal (which I now get via my Amex Platinum credits), Visa and Mastercard are planning to raise the fees that merchants pay for accepting credit cards in October and April. The Journal estimated that the additional fees could total more than $500m annually. The timing is odd for this, since lawmakers are currently debating legislation that would allow merchants to process Visa and Mastercards via alternative networks, a change that could lower merchant fees dramatically (and which some folks think could spell doom for credit card rewards in the US). The news didn’t escape Washington’s notice and two lawmakers later warned Visa and MC not to go through with the increase. Mastercard, for its part, now claims that there are no plans for a fee hike. Regardless, it undoubtedly will add fuel to the regulatory fire and cause even more merchants to take the step of charging extra when paying by credit card…something that chokes us up every time.

Qantas fined for selling tickets to cancelled flights

a hand pointing at a flight schedule
Customer browsing a list of Qantas flight offerings

Ever get tired of airlines continuing to strip away included benefits while flying? First, they took food, then seat selection, checked bags, carry-on bags, free changes and, in some cases, even water. American Airlines even claims that a place to sit isn’t guaranteed with your fare. That said, Qantas has taken it a step further by selling tickets to flights that don’t even exist. According to Australian regulators, between May and July 2022, the airline consistently sold tickets on its website after canceling flights as a way of generating additional revenue. On average, tickets were sold for more than two weeks after a flight was cancelled, with the most egregious example being 48 days afterwards. During that two month period these issues affected ~18% of Qantas’ flights as, incredibly, 25% of Qantas’ total schedule was cancelled (giving it an on-time performance slightly above Frontier). The airline is now facing the prospect of several hundred million dollars in fines.

Google Flights debuts new “cheapest time to buy” feature

a person typing on a laptop

Most of us at Frequent Miler are in that small cadre of nerdy unique folks that actually like to look for airfare. It’s a fun game on both the paid (yuck) and awards (yay!) side, trying to suss out patterns, deals and complicated routings. Google Flights is an excellent tool that I use all the time for searching flights, often as an early step towards getting ideas for award bookings. It’s probably the most powerful search engine out there, allowing folks to easily search by alliance, region and airline over broad ranges of dates. Last week, Google announced a new Flights feature that tells customers the exact date range that it expects flights to be cheapest for a given route and time of year. Google Flights has always told you whether or not the flights that you’re looking at are expensive based on historical trends, but now it gives you the exact dates that you’re most likely to get the best deal. They’re so confident in their data that they’ve started a pilot program with Alaska and Spirit that guarantees that the flight you buy won’t go down in price before departure (if you book within Google’s guaranteed best dates window). It will track the price daily and, if the price does go down after you buy, it’ll refund you the difference. If this succeeds and is eventually rolled out to other airlines, it could be a gamechanger for Google Flights as not only a great engine for searching, but for booking as well.

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Does using the Google service to book for the lowest price disqualify us from receiving multiplier for booking directly with airline? I.e. will i still get the 5x bonus with Amex and be eligible for the refund?

Jim Worrall

Hyatt Clearwater’s blatant and intentional misrepresentation of the evacuation order is criminal. Hyatt guests could have died as a result. Those involved should be prosecuted. Hyatt corporate should ensure that all Hyatt guests there should be generously compensated.

Rich Matthews

That photo is 100% not Pulling up to the valet line at the Hyatt regency Clearwater.
Also I was there and the hotel actually acted heroically taking in people who had been kicked out of other hotels and had nowhere to go. They explained things accurately and clearly. TV’s we’re on everywhere by the way so if you think their guests were only getting storm info from a paper pushed under their doors you are dead wrong. Finally the management and staff stayed on site and ensured the safety of everyone there. I truly hate that the hotel is going through being accused of negiligrnce.

Getting Old

You make a Great point. TV’s on Everywhere… I know if I had a room there, I sure would of know my option’s.


Hyatt put no one in danger. Since when do people make decisions based on a notice form a hotel? Anyone could have evacuated

Sheldon Cooper

I think the Hyatt Regency were willfully stupid and dangerous by intentionally telling guests there was no evacuation order but I find it weird that it seems the post is taking away agency and responsibility from the guests and local authorities.

I live at least 1500 miles from where the hurricane made landfall and was bombarded with news about Idalia even without actively seeking the news. Where the guests bed bound? Did they not interact with anyone else in the hotel or around town? Where they not even concerned enough to Google? Turn on local news?

Did they just take the hotels word for something as serious as a hurricane without checking secondary sources? Especially if my gut reaction would have been “hey we may need to evacuate” but they are now telling me we don’t. WHY? Has the hurricane path changed? Has the intensity reduced? I’m checking.

Did the local authorities utilize systems to notify everyone within their locale? Wouldn’t a hurricane evacuation order be a good opportunity to use the Wireless Emergency Alerts system? Sending targeted alerts to everyone directly without a filter or third party would avoid any lost in translation or misinterpretation. Maybe they did – we don’t know

Rich Matthews

Yes, this!!! We were all aware of the hurricane and everyone was talking about it. By the way the overwhelming majority of people did check out.
It’s not like there were a thousand simpletons in the hotel who had their Mickey Ears on going “Golly it’s windy I wonder why.” Also as a guest there I received an e-mail from the hotel operations manager which included a link from the local government with up to date weather information.