World’s Most Frequent Flyer Hits 20 Million Miles on United

Nov 8, 2018

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The world’s most frequent flyer was hoping to hit the 20-million-mile mark on a single airline before 2018 was through — as he shared on Instagram, Tom Stuker’s done just that, on United Flight 275 from Newark (EWR) to Los Angeles (LAX) Wednesday night, Nov. 7.

I met Tom on one of his most memorable flights that counted toward this week’s milestone, on United’s final 747 flight one year ago. By that point, Tom had racked up more than 500 flights on the airline’s Queen of the Skies alone.

Believe it or not, Tom’s actually flown well over 20 million miles. United only tracks miles flown on revenue tickets operated by the airline or its United Express subsidiary — award and partner flights don’t count toward Million Miler status, which I achieved myself for the first time just last year.

As a result, my status level will never drop below Premier Gold, and I get to share my current status (Premier 1K) with my sister, who now gets upgraded constantly on her domestic travels for work. United offers increasing lifetime status as Million Milers progress, topping out with Global Services status at the four-million-mile mark, which Tom has obviously far exceeded.

Tom Stuker poses with United employees ahead of his flight to LAX. Photo courtesy United Airlines.
Tom Stuker poses with United employees ahead of his flight to LAX. Photo courtesy United Airlines.

This time around, Tom hit the mark as his United 757-200 flew over Kansas City, MO, with his wife joining for the occasion. A United representative detailed last night’s festivities:

“We had a mini celebration in Newark at the gate before the flight departed to get customers excited. On board the crew made the announcement when he was about to hit 20 million miles which happened over Kansas City, MO. The crew passed out champagne to everyone on board to do a toast, and then we passed out cookies to everyone in Los Angeles when the plane arrived.”

20 million miles is no small achievement — the airline’s planning to host a big party in Tom’s honor at the Polaris Lounge in Chicago early next year.

Newly minted 20-million-miler Tom Stuker upon arrival at LAX. Photo courtesy Tom Stuker.
Newly minted 20-million-miler Tom Stuker upon arrival at LAX. Photo courtesy Tom Stuker.

TPG reader Tom T. caught Stuker’s celebration upon arrival at LAX, sharing his account of the experience:

“I’m waiting right now for a flight from LAX to IAD, and I see in the next gate over an arc of red white and blue balloons. While I’m wondering if there’s a new route that United is celebrating, the inbound plane for my flight arrives, and there’s a camera crew backing out of the gangway! Our interest is piqued, and out steps a familiar gentleman who’s brought over to the gate with the balloons. The supervisor introduces him as Tom Stuker, who just got in from EWR and is about to board a flight to MEL as a newly minted 20 million miler customer!”

For many flyers, achieving such a remarkable milestone would be enough for one day, but Tom kept going, continuing on United 98 from Los Angeles to Melbourne (MEL) — he’s expected to land in Australia later today.

Featured image courtesy of Tom Stuker.

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