One Man Has Now Flown 22 Million Miles on United Airlines

Two years ago United Airlines flyer Tom Stuker flew his 20 millionth mile. He’s kept up the pace because he just hit 22 million flown miles on United on a Newark – Los Angeles flight on Monday.

A corrupt FIFA executive was found to have improperly earned at least 26 million American Express points. Randy Petersen called him a ‘piker’ compared to someone in the program who has well over 120 million. Those are credit card points. Butt in seat flown miles are a whole different story.

I first wrote about Tom Stuker in 2009, and then again in 2011 when he crossed 10 million miles flown on United.

In 2009 he was flying 700,000 miles per year. By 2016 he had doubled that pace. In mid-2017 he hit his 18 millionth mile on United. In early November 2018 he hit 20 million miles flown on board a Newark – Los Angeles flight as they passed over Kansas City,

There’s a great deal of mythology around Stuker. For instance,

  • In one story he completed the 1984 ’50 States in 50 Days’ promo flying to all 50 states on United after the airline had inaugurated Wilmington, Delaware service. The reward was a year of first class travel.

  • Another story is that he purchased an unlimited travel pass years ago, so he hasn’t been buying tickets to fly these 22 million miles — and the more he flies, the more he earns, since his flights have earned miles (which he’s been said to cash in for gift cards since he doesn’t need to pay for his travel and he has plenty of points).

In any case, the man has a Titanium Global Services card and a United plane named after him.

Stuker has flown to Australia over 300 times and in normal times goes to Hawaii 3-4 times each year. In 2017 he had flown “over 9000 flights” on United. And he’s the biggest fan of the airline — and especially its employees.

(HT: Zach Honig)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. He flew 1 million miles in 8.5 months? That’s crazy! He would have to go to Australia or Asia once a week from ORD. Which I think he does.

  2. Yes but 21 million miles flown and still can’t redeem his miles or get an upgrade
    Sad ;):)

  3. wait…. he doesn’t pay for these flights? LOL I would think United would HATE him!

    How much did that pass cost?

  4. @ Gary — If Mr. Stucker is writing all of this flying off on his business, I would think he better be watching over his shoulder for the IRS. There is no justification for this insanity. Period.

  5. He probably glows in the dark from all that radiation
    Flying is terribly unhealthy to begin with

  6. I thought Stuker was like Fight Club: you’re not supposed to talk about how or why he flies. 🙂

    Obviously, he gets paid (apparently in frequent flyer miles) to fly (apparently without paying) because no one would otherwise be crazy enough to fly this much. Much less exclusively on one airline. There certainly could be no business justification for it.

    I’ve seen folks labeled as “haters” on travel blogs for asking questions about Stuker’s flying — criticism that has never made any sense to me. The reason folks are interested in the backstory is not because they hate Stuker, or are somehow envious, but because the deal seems so odd, and they want to know the inside story. Whatever the arrangements, UA is obviously OK with it (perhaps if he pretends that he’s paying for the tickets and exclusively prefers UA’s service?), which certainly makes his game easier.

  7. If I had to fly 1 million miles in 8.5 months, all in Singapore Airlines first class, I’ll still kill myself.

  8. This sounds absolutely awful. 21 million miles on United??? Or quite frankly, any airline???

  9. You’ve gone a million miles. How far’d you get?
    To that place where you can’t remember, you can’t forget.
    The Boss, Secret Garden

  10. If the man did 1 million miles in 8.5 months, that’s the equivalent of flying between EWR and SIN once every three days. WTF? I just don’t get it. Not for months on end.

  11. @ JL — LOL. Agree 100%, and I’ve flown about 6 million myself in 20 years. I hope I never reach 20 million.

  12. It took me 30 years to get to 1 million and I’m fine with that pace. No desire to do 1 million a year, even in Polaris

  13. How many of those miles aren’t actual distance miles and instead are the result of a bonus or multiplier applied to the distance? Still a lot of flying either way…

  14. no was you can have any life or good health with that much flying.

    he can have it. No, I’m not jealous.

  15. He runs an auto dealer sales training company that does a lot of business in Australia among other places – not much more to it than that – he does in person training and wants to split up time so he can see his wife

    Also tried doing a reality show based on his job a few years back on cable

  16. A lot of the so-called “haters” (including me) just want to know how???
    What business model justifies or requires such travel? Even pre-covid, what business activities require traveling such long distances at such frequencies, that cannot be done virtually?

  17. 9000 flights a year is ~24 flights _a day_. That’s clearly impossible. His stats are off or made up.

  18. I wish all of the bloggers and reporters would follow the money. Nobody has ever asked him who pays for his flight. Australia is closed to Americans. Asia too. Or parts of it. How did he rack up any miles since March? Nobody has ever asked the money question. I suspect at this point United pays him for free publicity.

  19. Your second Stuker bullet is 100% correct, in the late 80’s or early 90’s (I can’t recall exactly when) he or his company purchase a lifetime pass for around $550k at the time. This gives him access to unlimited flights in any cabin of service for life. A number of ppl have or had these passes though no one used them or still uses it the way Tom does. At this point it’s a marketing thing for UA because he doesn’t provide a dime of revenue.

  20. This is crazy. Poor bastard. I’ve flown 4 million miles on American (maybe 1 million more miles on other airlines). But this is over 25 YEARS. And most of this is while I was younger and single with no wife and kids.

    I also paid for all these flights. I can’t imagine flying this much. I don’t envy him.

  21. Good for him. I’m at a little over 8 million across all airlines (over 3 million each of DL and AA) in 35 years. I thought I flew a lot but I’ll gladly bow down to the King!

  22. He came to the Chicago Seminars in I think 2011. I emailed him, asking if he could stop by, since I knew he lives near ORD. He said if someone picked him up at ORD and drove him to Elk Grove Village, he could come by for an hour or so. So we did that.

    He was treated like a rockstar. Photos, kisses from a bunch of women. Telling stories and jokes.

    Fun times.

  23. But where is he going and why?
    Does he work? Is he a millionaire nut? Inquiring minds want to know…..

  24. If it’s leisure, isn’t this the kind of person who is destroying the planet?
    All these people going places to have
    “experiences” burning fossil fuels, isn’t that bad and selfish? Tourism is an industry that provides for billionaires while the actual jobs are slave wage. Bad JuJu…..

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