The World’s Most Frequent Flyer Is About To Pass 18 Million Miles With United

There are frequent flyers, there are very frequent flyers, and then there are OMG VERY VERY VERY FREQUENT FLYERS.

In 2011 I wrote about Tom Stuker, who at the time was earning 10 million miler status with United. That’s insane, given that United calculates million miler status based on your “butt in seat” revenue miles flown on United. That’s right, we’re not talking about 10 million award miles, or even 10 million miles taking into account elite bonuses for flying first or business class.

United held a huge celebration for Tom at the time, and even named a plane after him. Good for him, given how much he has flown.

Think he has slowed down since then? Nope. The International Business Times has a story about how Tom Stuker will pass 18 million miler status with United next week.

That. Is. Crazy. He passed 10 million miler less than six years ago, meaning he has averaged over 1.3 million flown revenue miles per year on United.

Tom is president of an automotive consulting company, which helps struggling car dealerships improve their sales tactics. It’s understandable that would require a lot of travel, but over a million miles a year? Wow.

There’s a lot of speculation about his travels. It’s entirely possible that he pays for every flight out of pocket, though it’s also rumored that he purchased a lifetime flying pass back in the day, and has been using that ever since. If that’s the case, I can’t imagine how much that pass is costing United. I don’t think Tom has confirmed or denied one way or another how he books his tickets.

The article goes on to reference his feelings about the with Dr. Dao incident, given that he considers United to be part of his family:

“I’m a big United loyalist, I consider them almost like a second family to me. So it was upsetting to see all of this negative press,” Stuker told International Business Times in a phone interview Tuesday.

“It’s terrible,” he said of Dao’s treatment. “I don’t care what the situation is, it never, never, never should happen on any airline to any human being, whatsoever.”

“It’s going to make every airline … reassess how they go about it,” said Stuker about airlines’ practice of bumping ticketed passengers from flights. United Airlines altered its policy over the weekend so that crewmembers would no longer be allowed to unseat passengers that had already boarded the plane.

Congrats to Tom… I think. 18 million flown miles with United is, well, just, wow…

Comments

  1. A million miles a year? Holy crap is that even possible? That is 2,740 miles a day, every day…literally more than a cross country flight every day of the year without taking a single day off. I don’t think that is possible.

  2. 1,3 million miles per year means 108k miles per month – lets say he works 25 days a month – that would mean he flies 4320 miles per day – EVERY DAY
    sorry but thats not possible for ONE human being
    somehting is off about this news …

  3. There are people that have a life …. Then there are people that fly 18 million miles on United. 🙁

  4. I don’t think UA ever sold the lifetime passes, although he has enough award miles to fly free for the rest of his life

  5. Seems kinda sad really. I think he is based out of Chicago? If I remember correctly. So 1.3 million miles a year is 3,561 flown miles a day. That’s like flying from Chicago to Heathrow every single day. How and/or why? Honestly the math doesn’t make sense to me (unless, of course, I am doing math wrong which is possible..).

  6. For those saying this isn’t possible….from what I recall, he flies a lot of transpacs from Australia. If most of your flying consists of transcons or long overseas flights, then 1.3 million miles a year is entirely possible, even if unpleasant. Kudos to him for maximizing his lifetime United flying pass if he indeed has one. Wonder how much something like that might cost today.

  7. Folks, there’s a dedicated thread on FT about the guy. He frequently heads to Australia so ORD-LAX-SYD is one of his most flown routes. It’s not really THAT hard to rack up miles when you’re crossing BOTH the dateline AND the equator twice a week.

    he’s not cranking 18MM out from ORD-DCA shuttles. geez

  8. @henry LAX Still, flying 70 Round trip flights to Australia in a year, that’s kinda insane. That’s more than a round trip flight a week… (well, one and a third round trip flights a week but still!)

  9. I’m curious, if it’s all ORD – SYD flying, how he justifies living in Chicago. Why not move closer to work?

  10. Remember that when UA and CO merged, there was a bump up in the BIS mileage count to equalize the two programs. I gained 150,000 lifetime miles when that happened. Tom probably got a few more.

  11. I think people are missing the premium cabin multiplier. Flying F/J, one could earn 300% or flying A/C/D/Z/P, one could earn 200% of the actual miles flown in terms of PQMs. Assuming he flies F/J, this means, he needs to fly ~36k miles a month to achieve the mentioned ~1.3M number. If he flies Chicago to Australia frequently, then that shouldn’t be a problem at all.

  12. @ Bismay — I could be missing something, but I don’t believe the premium cabin multiplier applies to million miler status. I think they count United butt in seat miles, and not elite qualifying miles.

  13. @Lucky – You are right. Towards the end of 2011, they did some of sort reset to consider all prior earned bonus EQMs, but post that time/date, they only consider actual distance flown (butt in seat miles). The only other thought I have about getting as many as ~108k miles in a month if you’re doing multiple round the world itineraries – that would be time efficient if you’re traveling to somewhere that’s geographically exact opposite to where one lives (kind of makes sense in this case).

    @alcwj – Ha ha, I’m sure it’s now about beating anyone. Lucky and his peers provide us a different perspective on flying (many agreeable, some questionable, some definitely debatable) and not necessarily about racing to the metaphorical “space” of multi-million-miler status(es).

  14. Stucker about to pass 18 million PQM (Premier Qualifying Miles). That’s not the same as BIS. He flies first or business class so often gets 2 or 3 PQM per BIS mile flown. He has flown 1 million BIS in a year, twice (2012 and 2015).

    His 10 million celebration in 2011 was for BIS. He’s probably at about 14.5-15 million BIS.

  15. 1 million BIS in a year is a New York to Houston roundtrip on all 365 days.

    In this way it’s less outrageous. Still outrageous, but at least all domestic.

  16. Yet another way: say you take 60 days off, and fly on all 305 other days. Chicago to Los Angeles roundtrips put you over 1mil BIS.

  17. There was a true-up when they merged the UA and CO FF programs. I don’t remember the exact details, but IIRC, it was along the lines of going back and adding things like Class of Service bonuses and similar since the CO program counted those (like DL) but UA did not (and still does not). I do remember netting a nice little bump to my MM balance from it.

  18. “I’m curious, if it’s all ORD – SYD flying, how he justifies living in Chicago. Why not move closer to work?”

    Because he works in both places?

    Because he likes living on a plane?

    Both of the above?

  19. I’m surprised that in this day and age more cannot be done via video-conference or another remote communications tool.

    Also, @dcaguy spoke for me as well.

  20. In my 30’s I once flew 140,000 miles in a year and and I was constantly ill. I’d love to know his secret to staying well and sane throughout all that travel.

  21. I also get 1.3 million miles/yr = 3,561/day. Seriously, how is that physically possible? Assuming all direct flights (at 600 mph) that’s 6 hours/day flying. Add and hour to and from airport (including security) and this is 8h a day every day. That’s got to be near the center of Dante’s Inferno.

  22. He posts regularly on FT. His flying is really to all over the UA international route network, not just Australia.

  23. Another “unpublished” benefit is that he never has to worry about being dragged out of his seat and having his head beat in against an armrest.

  24. It seems ironic that so many on this forum are critical of this man and his life, considering what is at the basis of every article published here.
    More power to an individual that is doing what he wants to do without harm to anyone else.

    I would also point to the fact that he seems to stay in the good graces of United as a steward of the hand that feeds him also. No silly video posts or soap box tweets.
    United needs him as much as he needs them.

  25. I have a friend with a United fly-for-life pass. They are all in a little “union” to fight back when United tries to renegotiate, etc. This guy is absolutely a life pass holder and pays ZERO for his flights, and accrues miles for them (and it comes with a companion pass). They laugh how United uses him even though he generates no revenue for them.

  26. I was checking into a flight to Frankfurt at Global Services at O’Hare. I started talking to the agent and she said I just missed Tom Stucker (who I have heard of from different articles, etc.), she went on to tell me he has a ticket that allows him UNLIMITED flights on United.

    When I boarded my flight, sitting across from me was a man wearing a tshirt that stated “XX million miles flown in United” (it was either 12 or 13 million, I don’t remember). I started talking with him and he told me he was going to go to the lounge in Frankfurt and then catching the next flight BACK to Chicago.

    I think it’s great that Tom was fortunate enough to get a “golden ticket” back in the day. Meeting him made more sense to me as well.

    Ben, if you (or I) had one of these tickets, you would have easily been doing what this Tom Stucker is doing now. What makes someone like you, and this website, even more interesting (or inspiring) is how you manage to take your flights manipulating miles, money, etc., to get great seats. We are able to connect with you because that’s what most of us do.

    The Tom Stucker story is like the “Emperor’s New Clothes” – the storyline of him traveling to Australia or wherever for consulting gigs is more impressive because it gives the appearance of someone paying thousands of dollars for his experience and wisdom. Then, this very wise man who must get paid a lot of money chooses to fly United, which United uses in their marketing. Google anything to do with “top flyer”, “most-travelled” or Tom Stucker and United – you will see this has benefitted United marketing-wise.

    Most of us “road warriors” travel for a living as consultants or executives and seeing Tom Stucker travel all over the world first-class is aspirational (at least it was for me, until I was told the real story, and then meeting him).

    But in reality, he has an unlimited ticket and he is really flying around the world because, well, he can, without costing him one dime (minus the purchase of the “golden ticket” back in the day).

    Being in the business of movie production, if anyone uses a “reality” show as the basis of confirming a fact is a little naive. Story lines can easily embellished or skewed, case in point – “The Tom Stucker and United Airlines Story”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *