Being a “frequent flyer” can be different for each person. Maybe you make a few flights down the coast each year or you see yourself flying around the globe weekly. Many airlines have a way of treating their best frequent fliers like royalty, but who is the king of kings? I would have to say that Chicago based automotive sales consultant Tom Stuker, who reached 10 million mile status on United Airlines over the weekend, is undisputed frequent flyer king.
How much is 10 million miles in a lifetime? A lot — one heck of a lot. There are a handful of folks who have crossed the 3million mile mark on United, but no one has come close to Stuker’s 10 million. United can’t officially confirm it, but it appears that Stuker has flown more miles, as a passenger, than anyone else in history. To make the 10 million mark, Stuker has been a member of United’s Mileage Plus since 1982 and has flown almost 6000 flights, with 200 trips to Australia alone.
Honestly, when I was invited to celebrate Struker’s 10 millionth mile in Chicago, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I figured a person who flies so much might have a bit of a jaded view on air travel — boy was I wrong. Upon arriving to Chicago on United flight 942 from Los Angeles, Stuker was greeted by United’s President and CEO Jeff Smisek and a whole entourage of other people. Before he de-planed, it was quite the spectacle and people gathered around not knowing what they were watching. A few girls actually came up and asked if Justin Beiber was getting off the plane. Heh… no, but someone much cooler was — the girls did not seem that impressed.
Stuker was escorted to a special section in United’s Red Carpet Club to even more people waiting. A lot of nice words were said, but really Stuker’s speech was quite surreal. He was a truly genuine guy and multiple times had to stop because he was tearing up. It was obvious that he saw United as a part of his family and even though he has met so many people he was able to thank many by name — from the CEO to baggage handlers it was quite impressive. Even with all the miles flown, he still has a strong love for flying.
Probably the most powerful part was when he had a hard time talking about when United went through difficult times with bankruptcy and employees having to make great sacrifices to keep the company alive. He is happy to see United’s bright future after the merger and wants to continue working on his miles. Even after his 10 million miles flown, Stuker stated that United had never lost his bag — quite the impressive feat.
During the celebration he was given the first and only United Titanium Card for hitting 10 million miles. He was also given a few nifty other presents, but probably the best was getting his name put on the side of a United Boeing 747-400 (N127UA). You know you have made it in life, if your name ends up on the side of an airliner (at least by airline geek definitions).
Uber frequent flyers like Stuker have a very different flying experience than most travelers. They get VIP treatment that rivals, or even beats, flying on your own personal jet. Many of you might experience a gold (or some other precious metal name) membership which treats you pretty darn well, but it can’t compare to when you are invited to the airline’s totally VIP and secretive super mileage club.
From the second these uber elite passengers even think about flying somewhere, they have multiple people making sure their trip goes flawless. Waiting in lines becomes a distant memory and they have a team of people making sure that nothing goes wrong.
This moment is truly a special part of airline history and it was great to be a part of it. Even though I love flying, I am not sure if I would stay sane doing about 700,000 miles per year. So cheers to Mr. Stuker and United for passing this milestone and hopefully there will be many more miles to go.
CHECK OUT ALL 11 PHOTOS FROM THE UNITED AIRLINES EVENT
I just realized that the titanium card has the tulip on it. I wonder if that was by Stuker’s request. https://picasaweb.google.com/igor.matlin/7911#slideshow/5627740340567473842
Great catch. I was told that the rewards cards haven’t been updated yet, but he will get a new one once they are!
I think it is pretty lame that they are changing some things so slowly. I understand taking a while at airports and planes where downtime means lost money, but on a card where you just give them a new one (once they reach new status), I don’t see why they don’t just put a globe on it.
It is just a HUGE process. It might just be a quick sending the card people the okay to do the new logo, but they are having to do that with a million different things.
Plus, the folks that are loyal United Airlines flyers are going to be the most resistant to seeing their tulip go away. I would imagine that might be one of the last things to go, so it is an easier transition.
If I was Tom I would be ecstatic. Even if someone else ever earns another 10million mile card, he will be the only one with the globe and tulip.
I hate the new branding, and I love the tulip, but I think they should be sending out the new cards with the new logo. Once they come out with the globe cards I will just keep using my Premier Exec card from this year (if it still works, but I can’t imagine it won’t).
“…enterage of other people. Before he de-planed, it was quite the skeptical and people gathered around not knowing what they were watching.”
2. “it was quite the spectacle as people gathered around…”
3. Oh and à¼ber has umlauts.
Classic. Looks like my post-spell check version didn’t go live. There were two others that were missed too, but I will keep those to myself :).
I wonder if it’s 10 million flown or 10 million earned. I know on Delta you earn bonus miles on higher fares and once you reach a medallion status.
Great question Daniel. It is 10 million miles flown, not earned.
I heard is was 50 million earned, and of course 10 million flown.
I see what you have written but Tom Stuker is not the most traveled airline passenger. I completed 10 million miles of flight with Virgin Atlantic in 1991 and 11 million on Kenya airways in 95 and have been in Guinness world records since 1983 I was the first million miler when United started a 100.000 mile club in the 70’s
I also flew 718 flight in Concorde all of this can be checked by fred finn into google
I want to know if Stuker is member of the mile high club… Grawl!
I expect to go over 3M BIS miles with UA within a few months. Thought that was the top tier–published anyway– until they introduced the 4M tier-not likely I will make that, let alone the 10M.
I expect the reason I am not GS is because I usually fly the lowest fare available–I am reasonably sure I have never purchased a Business/First Class ticket on UA–and I find myself upgraded (one way or another) 95% of the time.
Frankly I am curious as to how many 1M, 2M, 3M, 4M, etc UA has–guess it will inherit a bunch from Continental. Anybody know?
Love United, Love my wife–had too few problems with either to mention.
Could you kindly send me mu United frequent flyer card number
Could you kindly send me my UNITED frequent flyer card number? I am traveling tomorrow with United airlines to Maryland. Do I have enough miles to upgrade my ticket to business class.
I know this is four years late, but my dad reached 10 million with AA last year and he got a letter.. He is about to reach 10.5 and I will be surprised if AA send him another letter.
Why doesn’t AA treat their frequent fliers the same as United?
These are 10 million in seat..just to clear it. Albeit, he is a concierge key holder, but after this celebration from United it still seems AA is lacking in acknowledgement..