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Monday
Jul112011

United Frequent Flier Reaches 10M Miles, Gets His Name on a Jet

Tom Stuker, the first customer ever to fly 10 million miles with United Airlines, walks through Chicago O'Hare International Airport with United employees. PRNewsFoto/United Continental Holdings, Inc., Wayne Slezak(CHICAGO) -- Tom Stuker flies a lot. In 29 years, he has averaged nearly 29,000 miles in the air each month on United flights, having taken 5,962 trips with the airline.

And when Stuker got off the plane late Saturday at Chicago's O'Hare airport, he was greeted with much more than just a welcome-home kiss.

Returning from Los Angeles on business, the Windy City-based car sales consultant was met with a celebration for becoming the first United passenger to travel 10 million miles in flight -- equal to 20 round trips to the moon or circling the globe 400 times.

Stuker, 57, is the top member of the airline's Mileage Plus frequent flier program and has made more than 200 roundtrips to Australia, 30 to Asia and 70 to Hawaii. He's also landed at airports in all 50 U.S. states.

"They [United] really, really, really take care of you," Stuker told ABC News in 2009. "They'll have you rebooked, they'll meet you at the gate so you aren't panicking, and they will arrange for any and all means to get you to that flight. They'll personally escort you through security."

With this rare milestone under his belt, Stuker will now get free upgrades to first class when he flies with United and also gets one of the airline's jets named after him. Incidentally, Stuker's goal -- and his rewards -- represent the dream of the character George Clooney played in the drama Up in the Air.

"We are honored that Tom has chosen to fly with us for the past three decades," said Jeff Smisek, president and chief executive officer of United Continental Holdings, in a news release. "We deeply appreciate his loyalty to our airline and look forward to serving him as he flies his next 10 million miles."

Thanks to his frequent business trips, Stuker already does not have to suffer through the common annoyances of the average flier, such as airport lines, middle seats, waiting on hold when calling customer service and missed connections.

Instead, his air travels bring him complimentary cocktails, first name greetings and a hidden check-in process.

"It is total, total VIP," Stuker said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio