Next Week Tom Stuker Will Fly His 18 Millionth Mile on United Airlines

A year and a half ago a Chinese billionaire earned 2 billion Membership Rewards points in a single transaction but they were Hong Kong Membership Rewards points which are on a totally different scale (and it was probably an exercise in overcoming the regime’s currency controls).

A corrupt FIFA executive was found to have improperly earned at least 26 million American Express points. Randy Petersen called him a ‘piker’ compared to someone in the program has well over 120 million.

Those are credit card points. Butt in seat flown miles are a whole different story.

I first wrote about Tom Stuker in 2009, and then again in 2011 when he crossed 10 million miles flown on United.

In 2009 he was flying 700,000 miles per year. Last year he hit 17 million flown, which would mean 7 million in 5 years or 1.4 million per year — twice his earlier pace. That would be 3835 miles per day which would require flying literally a third of the hours in each year.

While 700,000 a year is doable, and he reportedly flew a million miles in 2012 1.4 million blows my mind — as an average — since it requires flying even more in subsequent years to ‘make up for’ having flown ‘just’ one million in a year.

There’s a great deal of mythology around Stuker. For instance,

  • In one story he completed a promo in the 80s to fly to all 50 states when United even flew to Deleware just to be able to say that they did, and he received something like a year’s first class travel.

  • In another story he had purchased an unlimited travel pass years ago, so he essentially made money (in the form of MileagePlus miles converted to gift cards) by flying.

In any case, the man has a Titanium Global Services card and a United plane named after him.

Here he meets the other world’s most traveled man in Munich.

Next week Tom Stuker will pass 18 million flown miles on United (HT: One Mile at a Time).

Stuker started flying more often in 1984 when he traveled extensively for work. He has flown over 300 times to Australia for work and for pleasure and tries to visit Hawaii “three-to-four times a year.” After so many years of flying with United, he has not wavered in his staunch support of the company.

Having flown “over 9,000 flights with United” ever since “a high school trip in 1971.”

No doubt he’s eaten more than his share of cheeseburgers. Goodness knows he’s not flying United’s Basic Economy.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I imagine he’s never been yanked off a United flight; can you imagine the “notes” in his account/reservation?

    Either way, that is a LOT of miles; pretty unreal!

  2. @Rob we often cover similar topics, which isn’t surprising considering that our blogs cover very much the same ‘beat’ and we’re friends as well. when I see something notable there that I want to comment on I acknowledge it (and he does the same as well)

  3. I agree the numbers are staggering… it would be great to have some detail in the post on how or why (work? hobby?) a person would be flying that many miles per day seeing as, well, what else can he really do with his days?

  4. “Geez, Rob, why so salty?”

    Yeah, it must be tough to wake up on the wrong side of the bed when it’s pushed up abasing the wall . . .

    ;^)

  5. Yeah does the guy do for work to fly that much. It’s like he is a personal messenger or carries documents or something.

    Why have a house or anything just rent a room from someone and stop for a night one a week to change suitcases. Pay the room mate to have your clothes cleaned.

  6. Per a Forbes article: “Mr Stuker is president of a firm that trains sales staff at car dealerships around the world.” That’s kind of funny, I had no idea there was such a demand for across-the-world dealership training. Developing countries market, I guess

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