Saturday, February 10, 2018

Travel Laptop Deal - Macbook looks with a Windows 10 Price

The Huawei Matebook X 13" laptop is an excellent value right now, on sale for $700 at Amazon (LINK).  Very strong specs, premium materials, and top-notch build quality for under $1,000.  Thin and light.  A great travel laptop.

Features / High Points

  • Lighter than comparable Macbook
  • 2K screen resolution (2160x1440 pixels)
  • Office 365 Personal included
  • Narrow bezel 13" screen with 88% screen-to-body
  • Metallic body
  • First laptop in the world with full Dolby Atmos sound.  Much richer, better sound than typical of a laptop this size
  • Intel Core i5 dual core 2.5 GHz CPU
  • 8 GB memory
  • 256GB solid state drive
  • USB-C
  • Includes a port dock and USB-C to USB adapter
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Comfortable, smooth chiclet keyboard
  • Battery life good (8-9 hours) but not great.
  • Thinner (12.5mm) and lighter (2.31 lbs) than Macbook
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Intel HD Graphics 620
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wireless compatibility


  • Battery life trails behind many competitors.  E.g. half of the Microsoft Surface laptop
  • Non-touchscreen display
  • No standard USB ports; must use the included dock or converter cable to connect older USB devices
  • No optical drive - not really a con as it is not expected on a laptop this small and light

Professional Reviews

(courtesy CNET)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Mainland US to Hawaii from $296 Round Trip

no time to get into all the details, but search from your desired departure cities.  Many large cities - particularly Delta hubs such as Detroit, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Salt Lake City - have the best fares.

Most of the sale flights are to Honolulu (HNL) but some good fares also seem to be available to other airports in Hawaii including OGG and LIH.

Spring break (first week in April) and summe are EXCLUDED from this sale.

FYI - Toronto (YYZ) has sub-$500 Hawaii flights almost all the time, so check there if you are within reasonable driving distance.

MSP and SLC are cheapest, from $296.  DTW from $515.  Delta fares are basic economy, so add $70 if you want to get an advance seat selection, upgrade eligible, etc.  American's fare is a standard economy.

From GRR, could possibly book separate flights to and from MSP and combine with the $300-310 round trip fares.  Or drive to Detroit.

American, United, and Delta are all participating in this fare war.

Deal popped up earlier today and could expire at any moment.

Recommend booking flights right away - *even if you are not sure you can go.*  Get the ticket booked and take the 24 hours afterward to figure out if you can keep the reservation or if you need to cancel.

Background articles
Note that prices are cheaper than stated from certain cities mentioned in these articles.

Sample Searches
April 4 - 16 DTW from $515

May 9 - 17 MSP from $306

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Widespread Fare Sale US to Europe $450+ Most US Airports to Rome, Milan, Paris, Amsterdam, Munich, Brussels etc.

 Big fare sale, apparently started by Delta and matched by United.


  • Now thru May
  • Mid-September thru early December

7-day stay required.  Must book 28 days in advance.

Big airports around the US, including Detroit (DTW) and Chicago O'Hare (ORD) are showing the cheap fares.

So are small airports in Michigan, all showing sub-$500 roundtrips to various European cities.  Includes flights from:

  • Grand Rapids (GRR)
  • Lansing (LAN)
  • Traverse City (TVC)
  • Muskegon (MKG)
  • Flint (FNT)
  • Kalamazoo (AZO)
Destination Cities Available Include:
  • Rome (FCO)
  • Milan (MXP)
  • Paris (CDG)
  • Amsterdam (AMS)
  • Munich (MUC)
  • Brussels (BRU)
  • Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Dusseldorf (DUS)
  • Berlin (TXL)
  • Marseille (MRS)
  • Zurich (ZRH)
  • Geneva (GVA)
  • Prague (PRG)
  • Krakow (KRK)
  • Warsaw (WAW)
  • Bucharest (OTP)
  • Zagreb (ZAG)
  • Barcelona (BCN)
  • Madrid (MAD)
  • Valencia (VLC)
  • Bilbao (BIO)
  • Lisbon (LIS)
  • Porto (OPO)
  • Possibly others

Sample Dates with Cheap Flights:
  • Fri Oct 12 - Sat Oct 20.  From GRR/LAN/TVC/FNT/MKG from $453.  Google Flights
  • Weds Nov 21 - Sat Dec 1 (Thanksgiving is Nov 22).  From $451.  Google Flights
  • Mon Mar 12 - Tues Mar 20.  From $451.  Google Flights
  • Fri Mar 30 - Mon Apr 9.  From $503.  (Spring break week).  Google Flights
  • Sun Apr 1 - Mon Apr 9.  From $458.  From Detroit.  Google Flights

Google Flights "Explore" View from October showing available prices from GRR

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

1 year Delta Sky Club access + 40k SkyMiles + 10k MQMs for $450

American Express is again offering 40,000 Delta SkyMiles plus 10,000 MQMs on the Amex Delta Reserve personal and business credit cards.  Requires $3,000 spend within first 3 months.

Below is my referral URL for the Business version of the Amex Delta Reserve Card.

If you apply, I'd appreciate you using my referral link as I'll earn some free SkyMiles.  The offer via referral is the same as the publicly available offer, so you don't lose anything by using the link.  Referral offer on business version of the card ends on 1/31/2018.

Card also provides free Delta Sky Club access for cardholder when traveling on same-day Delta flight.

Although this offer has been around a few months, it is the first time so many SkyMiles  are included in the sign-up bonus for the Reserve cards.  Typically the bonus has been 10k SkyMiles, or as low as 5k SkyMiles, plus the 10k Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs, aka elite status qualifying miles).

The business version of the card is great because most business credit cards do NOT hit your personal credit report or affect your credit inquiries or credit score.  Anyone can apply for a business credit card; you do NOT need an incorporated business or a company Tax ID number to be approved for a business credit card.  All you need is a legitimate small business or side business with a history of decent amount of revenue and a good amount of expected expenses.

Annual fee on this card is $450, which is steep, but still cheaper than buying a Sky Club membership separately.  Delta Diamond members can choose free individual Sky Club membership (costs one of the member's three Choice Benefits) or an executive Sky Club membership (costs two Choice Benefits).  Diamond elites who have complimentary Sky Club access via credit card such as the Reserve personal or business card, also can choose a Delta Sky Club Guest Pass.  This costs one Choice Benefit and allows two guests to join the member in the Sky Club free.  This is a smarter way to go; get individual SkyClub access by paying $450 annual fee for the Reserve card, and in exchange you free up an additional Choice Benefit instead of using TWO Choice Benefits for the Executive Membership.

Personally, I'd rather choose the 4 global or 8 regional upgrade certificates, or gift Gold status to another person (or use all 3 Choice benefits to gift Gold status to 3 people), and pay for the Sky Club via the Reserve card annual fee instead rather than waste a Diamond Choice Benefit on Sky Club membership.


  • Earn 40,000 Delta SkyMiles and 10,000 MQMs after $3,000 spend within first 3 months of card membership
  • Must apply via referral link by April 24, 2019 to be eligible for sign-up bonus
  • Earn 1 SkyMile per dollar on all purchases.  Earn 2x per dollar on Delta spending (in-flight purchases, airfare, etc)
  • Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product before
  • $450 annual fee

How Good is This Deal?

  • Excellent...for $450, signing up for this card is an absolute no-brainer.
  • 40k SkyMiles can be used for:
    • Award flights (get $500-700 value depending on what/when you book); OR
    • Revenue flights - cardholders receive the ability to use miles at 1 cent per mile toward paid/revenue flights - Delta calls this feature "Pay With Miles."  The 40k bonus miles are worth $400 toward paid Delta travel - this basically offsets the $450 annual fee in first year
  • SkyClub individual membership alone is well worth the annual fee for the card.  Also provides a discounted rate for up to 2 guests per visit
  • 10k Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) after meeting the minimum initial spend
  • Earn up to 30k additional MQMs and 30k additional SkyMiles per year - Earn 15,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) and 15,000 bonus SkyMiles after $30,000 spend on the card in a calendar year. Earn an additional 15,000 MQMs and an additional 15,000 bonus SkyMiles after $60,000 spend on the card in a calendar year.  So it is possible to earn 40k MQMs in the first year holding this card.
    • If you spend right around $30k or $60k per year on the card, you will earn right around 1.5 SkyMiles per dollar
    • MQMs with Delta are valuable particularly because any earned beyond a status level MQMs roll over to the following year
  • Companion Certificate - main cabin or first class companion certificate each year on card renewal
  • Upgrade tiebreaker - Cardmembership is one of the factors in determining the upgrade list on each flight, so holding this card slightly improves one's chances of first class upgrade on domestic flights.  Specifically, the Reserve card is the upgrade tiebreaker when two passengers have the same Medallion status and booked in same fare class.

Other Card Benefits

    • 24/7 Concierge
    • 20% off in-flight Delta purchases paid with the card
    • First checked bag free on every flight
    • Priority boarding (Zone 1) on Delta flights
    • Purchase protection, baggage protection, Global Assist hotline, premium roadside assistance, car rental loss and damage insurance, extended warranty - typical benefit suite for many higher-end credit cards

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018

    [EXPIRED] US to Auckland New Zealand from $329 Round Trip! Chicago/Detroit/GR etc.

    UPDATE 325pm this deal has expired.  You may still be able to book via a travel agent.

    More details later, but search Google Flights NOW from your favorite airport for unbelievable airfares to Auckland (AKL) or Wellington (WLG), New Zealand.

    Flights at these prices are on Star Alliance - United, Air New Zealand, etc.

    Smaller airports are also included on this pricing!  Sub-$350 round trips from GRR, LAN, FNT for folks in Michigan.

    Fares seen at these prices from March thru June 2018.

    Book now and talk to your friends and family later!  You have 24 hours to cancel after booking.  Don't be one of those people who misses out on a great fare deal because you had to get everyone on board first, before booking.  That's a 101-level ROOKIE MISTAKE!

    Detroit to Iceland $200 Roundtrip! Amsterdam/Berlin/Copenhagen/Dublin/Paris from $300 RT

    WOW air begins service to Europe from Detroit (DTW) in 2018.  WOW air already flies from several other large US cities to Europe, and their fares are VERY low.

    Flights from DTW to Europe have been bookable for several weeks now, and the prices on certain dates are VERY cheap.

    As a low-cost carrier, WOW charges extra for a lot of 'regular' stuff such as a 2nd cabin bag, seat selection, checked bags, etc.

    WOW air flights between US and Europe all connect in Reykjavik (KEF).

    If you can pack light - or even if you can't - their prices can be tough to beat.

    Sept/Oct 2018 flights to Reykjavik (KEF) from $200 round trip on certain dates.


    Details about fare sale on WOW air's website -

    Highly recommend registering to receive Travelzoo email updates.  They find and post some good deals and also some good travel content in general.  That's how I heard about this particular WOW air sale from Detroit to Europe.

    Monday, January 1, 2018

    Roundtrip U.S. to Beijing - Delta Premium Economy $600+ RT Feb-Apr 2018 21k MQMs

    Great mileage run for elite qualifying miles with Delta.

    Earn 21,239 Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) from Chicago.

    1-stop and 2-stop flights to Beijing (PEK) via Detroit (DTW).  Other routings also available for more $$, via Seattle (SEA) or other cities.

    Best fares available March thru mid-April 2018.  Some February fares slightly more expensive.

    • O'Hare (ORD) or Midway (MDW) as low as $653 round trip
    • Boston from $615
    • Other cities also available for similar pricing - e.g. Rochester NY (ROC) $671+
    • Columbus (CMH) and Indianapolis (IND) both < $800
    • Cleveland (CLE) $875+

    Search on Google Flights.

    These flights all route thru Detroit to Beijing (PEK).  Most of them are on Delta's new Airbus A350, so you are getting a seat in Delta's new "Premium Select" cabin which is available so far only on their A350.  This is a better experience and seat than Delta's typical Comfort+ cabin on other long-haul aircraft such as the A330, B767, etc.

    The connecting flights within the U.S. will mostly be booked into first class with this deal as well, but keep an eye out to be sure.

    Sample Searches
    CMH/IND March 8-12 from $758.  LINK
    ROC April 5-9 from $671.  LINK
    ORD/MDW April 5-9 from $658.  LINK
    BOS March 18-26 from $665.  LINK

    Great for Earning Toward Delta Elite Status

    • This fare earns 20,000+ Delta Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs).  From ORD, 21,239 MQMs.  For $650-800 that's a GREAT return, especially considering it's not in the economy cabin.  Note the MQD earnings aren't great because it's 1 MQD per $1 of base fare for Delta flights.  However...
    • Anyone can still waive the MQD requirement for 2019 Silver, Gold, or Platinum status with $25k credit card spend during calendar year 2018
    • 21k MQMs is most of what you need for Silver (25k).  It also can push someone most of the way from Silver (25k) to Gold (50k), or Gold (50k) to Platinum (75k)
    • 21,239 MQM for $653 is 3.1 cents per elite qualifying mile - a GREAT deal especially considering the deal is in premium economy, not regular economy