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Wednesday’s United Flight 98, operated by a 787-9 Dreamliner and traveling some 8,000 miles from Los Angeles to Melbourne, was carrying the airline’s (and maybe the world’s) most frequent traveler, Tom Stuker. That’s nothing out of the ordinary — he’s made the journey from LAX to MEL many times before, even in 2018 — but this particular leg marked his latest travel milestone, carrying him past 19,000,000 miles flown on paid United Airlines tickets. That’s an awful lot of time to spend on an airplane.
I met Tom on the final 747 flight, from San Francisco to Honolulu, shortly after he hit 18 million miles flown. He was definitely the life of the party, along with his frequent travel companion (and fellow Global Services member) Jason DiVenere, the star of that goofy in-flight workout video. I had a chance to chat with Tom ahead of his milestone flight, and despite loads of memories from the road, he referenced that final 747 hop as his favorite flight to date.
That could change when Tom passes the 20-million-mile mark, though, depending on what United has in store for his in-flight celebration. As for last night, the airline certainly didn’t overlook this particular achievement. Tom was presented with a goodie bag complete with a scarf, hat and a note from CEO Oscar Munoz. Too bad the airline misspelled his name.
The crew also gave Tom a slick 787-9 Dreamliner sketch, signed by the captain and three first officers operating his flight to Melbourne. They did spell his name right.
There was also a bottle of Robert Mondavi Maestro, a Napa Cabernet Sauvignon blend that’s certainly more impressive than anything normally served onboard, at least based on retail price.
While Tom’s now flown more than 19 million miles on United, his lifetime total actually exceeds 20 million including flights on other airlines. Tom’s on track to hit 20 million on United this year, though, assuming he continues to fly 100,000 miles every month for his job as auto-industry sales and management consultant, based in New Jersey.
In 2017, his United travels totaled a whopping 1,160,000 “butt-in-seat” miles, though since he travels on full-fare “J” and “F” class tickets, he earned more than 3.5 million Premier-Qualifying Miles — 35x the requirement for the airline’s top-tier Premier 1K status. He’s already approaching 450,000 PQMs for 2018, and has easily re-qualified for Global Services — though he’s been a lifetime Global Services member since crossing the 4-million-miler mark several years ago. Tom turns 65 in December, so assuming he maintains his crazy travel schedule, he’ll be hitting two major milestones in 2018.
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