United Frequent Flier VIP Tom Stuker Reaches 10M Miles

Having taken about 6,000 United flights, frequent flier gets his name on a jet.

ByABC News
July 11, 2011, 7:19 AM

July 11, 2011 — -- 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 wth 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."

The Real 'Up in the Air'

The feat is reminiscent of the 2009 movie "Up in the Air" in which George Clooney's high-flying character details the life of a 10-million-miler, from the free round-the-world airline tickets down to the personal greeting from ticket agents who have likely never met him.

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.

"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."

United's Frequent Flier Treated Like 'Total VIP'

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.

ABC News' Scott Mayerowitz and ABC affiliate WLS-TV contributed to this story.