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  1. #1
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    United Airlines customer to fly 10 millionth mile this weekend

    Thought those of you who enjoyed the movie "Up in the Air" and who can recognize almost all the airport scenes in the movie - because, like me, you've actually been through all those airports and lounges - could identify with this press release:

    Miles above the U.S. heartland, nearly half-way between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, one customer aboard United Airlines (NYSE: UAL) flight 942 from Los Angeles to Chicago this Saturday will reach a first-ever milestone: earning 10 million miles in flight.

    Tom Stuker, a Chicago-based automotive sales consultant, joined Mileage Plus in 1982 and, since then, has logged 5,962 United flights – plus or minus one or two – including more than 200 roundtrips to Australia and nearly 30 to Asia. Stuker has touched down at airports in all 50 U.S. states, including 70 trips to Hawai'i.

    As United's most-frequent flyer, Stuker is the airline's first customer since the program launched in 1981 – and perhaps the first traveler ever – to fly 10 million miles. To equal his feat, a traveler could circle the globe 400 times, fly to the moon and back 20 times, or fly roundtrip between United's largest hubs in Houston and Chicago about 5,400 times.
    That's 29,000 miles flown, per month, every month, for the last 29 years. He cashed in some of his miles for an appearance on "Seinfeld" once, and he has a Boeing 777 jet named after him.

    He even got his own TV news story a while back.

    Here's another news article that distinguishes between merely earning 10 million miles (which, for elite fliers, are padded with bonus miles) and actually flying 10 million miles. In Ryan Bingham/George Clooney's case in "Up in the Air," I'm pretty sure he had only earned 10 million miles, not flown them. Because Mr. Stuker has flown 10 million miles, he has actually earned far more than that - something like 30 million miles.

    As a middling Premier Executive-level elite flier on United, I can attest to the fact that I don't have to pay baggage fees, get upgrades to First most of the time, and get my pick of seats in cattle class when I don't get upgraded. You also never know who you could sit next to - on my way out of Spokane after 2010 Nationals, Evan Lysacek, himself obviously an elite flier, happened to be sitting next to me.

  2. #2
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    Yes, Ryan Bingham had earned 10 million miles as opposed to flown them.

    This is mind-boggling. How does anyone have the time or $ to fly that many miles??

  3. #3
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    From the Nightline link, it seems that he's a self-employed consultant. If he was actually a senior executive at a large company (like, say, Steve Jobs at Apple) he'd probably fly on a private plane instead.

    Come to think of it, since he flies that much, he ought to consider whether a NetJets / executive jet membership would be more economical, comfortable, time-sensitive, and value-added than flying scheduled commercial airline service (even in First) - after all, it's good enough for the likes of Warren Buffett or Roger Federer.

  4. #4

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    Actually I'm surprised the story isn't about you, UMBS
    You should never write words with numbers. Unless you're seven. Or your name is Prince. - "Weird Al" Yankovic, "Word Crimes"

  5. #5
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    I'm not Mr. Stuker's age yet, and I've spread around my flying a bit more.

    United - 229K miles earned, 110K miles actually flown on United
    Delta/Northwest - 497K miles earned, 253K miles flown
    American - 412K miles earned, ~200K miles flown

  6. #6

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    Wow, I feel sorry for anyone who has to spend that much time in an airplane. I wouldn't want to be in his position.

  7. #7

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    I bet he has some pretty amazing stories to share. He should write a book!
    -Brian
    "Michelle would never be caught with sausage grease staining her Vera Wang." - rfisher

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    I feel sorry for anyone who has to fly United that much, I hate them! I've only flown with them 3 times, and each time there was a 4hour delay, always due to a fault of the airline. They gave me travel vouchers to make up for the problems, but the vouchers come with a billion conditions that make redemption very difficult. Ugh!

    You can get a lot of bonus miles if you sign up for an airline-affiliated credit card. I had the Delta Amex and am taking a free trip to Montana in August without having even spent anything on the card (thank you sign-up bonus!)

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajax View Post
    You can get a lot of bonus miles if you sign up for an airline-affiliated credit card. I had the Delta Amex and am taking a free trip to Montana in August without having even spent anything on the card (thank you sign-up bonus!)
    Those miles don't count toward Elite status (or whatever United calls it). US Airways lets you buy into Elite status, but for most airlines, it's based on butt-in-seat miles. Toward the end of the year, people will do mileage runs where they'll take a trip from Singapore and back without ever leaving the airport, just to get the miles.

    I really do feel sorry for people who have to fly so often for work. Even with the perks, I wouldn't be able to stand it.

  10. #10
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    The initial sign-up bonus can be enticing, but once it's been cashed in, having an airline credit card on an ongoing basis may not necessarily be the most points-/rewards-maximizing credit card option depending on one's spending habits. Another thing to note is that cashing in airline miles on domestic economy class (or even first class) trips usually does not give you as much bang for the buck as cashing in, say, 4 times the miles for an international business class trip that would otherwise cost 10 times as much when comparing the actual cash ticket price.

    For consultants, national sales reps, and other jet-set business types, traveling so much is a fact of life. Often, you are on the road a lot during the week and you're only home during the weekends. In my case, I am now West Coast based and, in a previous gig, had periods where I flew out East for a week, every week, before heading back West for the weekend. Sometimes I'd stay out East for a weekend and get my hotel expenses paid for because they'd be much cheaper than flying me back West for the weekend, but in most cases I needed the weekend down time back West to take care of personal things.

    On the plus side, being on a plane, especially up front, can be a self-enforced, confined-space solitude where you can get things done: work on that memo or presentation, catch up on emails, catch up on business/personal reading, watch a movie on your laptop, or just get some rest (hopefully with noise-cancelling headphones). Depending on the introvert/extrovert vibe between you, your seatmate, or the folks at the airline lounge, you can also get some pretty good networking done.

    It is grueling, especially if you have a family. It's not an ideal lifestyle choice for most people, that's for sure, although young single professionals can probably deal with it better depending on how much you can get on the side while on the road.
    Last edited by UMBS Go Blue; 07-11-2011 at 11:56 PM.

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