When Tom Stuker (right) touches down in Chicago today on United Airlines flight 942 from Los Angeles, he will have flown 10 million miles on United, become the carrier's--and possibly world's--first known person to achieve that status.
The Chicago-based automotive sales consultant joined the carrier's Mileage Plus frequent flyer programme in 1982 and since then has flown approximately 5,962 flights on United. That includes over 200 roundtrips to Australia, 30 to Asia, and 70 to Hawaii. Stuker, United's most frequent passenger has also touched down in every state in America.
To equal Stuker's 10 million miles, a passenger could fly around the world 400 times, fly to the moon and back 20 times (more trips than any astronaut has ever completed), or for a more local offering, fly between United's hubs in Chicago and Houston 5,400 times.
Stuker's statistics means he averages 29,000 miles a month, so he naturally has his travel routine down pat.
"I can recommend what food and wine to order and which movies to watch," he said. "I'm like the Siskel and Ebert of the plane because I have already seen every one of them," he says.
But he has not mastered travel to his liking. "I don't sleep as much as I'd like," Stuker said. "But I have found that the quiet and solitude allow me to be my most creative. During long flights, I've come up with some of my most innovative business ideas."
Stuker also made a cameo on an episode of "Seinfeld" thanks to his jetsetting. (Psst! Anyone know which episode, exactly?)
Stuker will be greeted in Chicago by family, friends, United executives, and importantly United employees he has got to known.
"While flying those 10 million miles, I have collected just as many great memories, smiles, experiences and new relationships along the way," Stuker said. "The thousands of people at United have made my travels wonderful experiences."
United has not disclosed what cabin Stuker travels in, any new perk, or if he is a member of the airline's invitation-only Global Services offering that provides service beyond the carrier's top-tier frequent flyer level.
United Continental Holdings chief executive Jeff Smisek did have this to say: "We deeply appreciate [Stuker's] loyalty to our airline and look forward to serving him as he flies his next 10 million miles."
What is it like to be an uber frequent flyer? Have a look at this short 2009 documentary