Lots of stories the last several days like this one leading up to a true milestone for frequent flyers, Tom Stuker’s flight yesterday from Los Angeles to Chicago where he flew his 10 millionth mile on United.
The comparisons to George Clooney in Up in the Air are everywhere, but Clooney was earning his miles from all sources (and in the book, which I read on a transcon flight in 2001 and which bore no relationship whatsoever to the movie, he was only after 1 million miles). I’ve earned that many myself. But Stuker’s 10 million are actual flight miles, logged with a single airline over the past 30 years. His first 5 million miles took 20 years, his second 5 million took only 10 years (so he was averaging 500,000 flight miles a year — take that United 1Ks and American Executive Platinums!).
For me, that’s a daunting amount of travel. Especially on United. While I realize many of those first class flights to Australia were likely upgrades, not all of them were, and flying international first means paying at least for business. If I were buying paid premium cabin international fares to the Asia Pacific region, I certainly wouldn’t be flying United, I’d consider Qantas and Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. Stuker was incredibly gracious, thanking all of the United employees who make his travels so great and who are so wonderful at customer service, but even as a Global Services member it’s hard to imagine he’s better off than if he were a Singapore PPS Solitaire member.
Here’s a video of the ceremony, I watched the whole 20 minutes and though it was really special.
United presented Stuker with a Titanium Mileage Plus card, a framed commemorative on an original stock certificate, a book listing all of his flights with United, a model of a 787 in United livery (United’s CEO joked about the plane’s delivery delays) and… they named a 747 after him, which was parked right outside the window where the ceremony was being held.
It was also near to see many familiar friends and faces in the audience, Captain Denny, Art, Marty, Randy Petersen..
Congratulations, Tom, it’s thrilling to see the well-deserved recognition for your milestone. And I’m looking forward to your upcoming SpikeTV reality show, “Car Boss”…!