5,962 flights, 10 million miles: car salesman flies into the record books

Even those nearest and dearest to Thomas Stuker would probably admit that he is no George Clooney. But like the character played by the actor in the film Up In The Air, Mr Stuker's flights around the world have seen him reach the milestone of 10 million miles on board a single US airline.

Mr Stuker, a car sales consultant from Chicago, is discovering that becoming a 10 million-mile traveller is not something the airline, United, is going to let pass unnoticed.

Disembarking late on Saturday from the trip from Los Angeles to Chicago that took him past the mark, he was greeted by the airline's chief executive, Jeff Smisek, other executives and members of his family.

The plastic plane that Mr Smisek gave him seemed small reward for the loyalty shown by Mr Stuker, who reached his goal after taking 5,962 flights, most of them visiting car dealerships in the US and around the world. Put together, those flights would circle the Earth 400 times.

However he has already enjoyed rewards for his supreme brand loyalty. He has access to a special lounge at O'Hare airport in Chicago – where United is based – is upgraded to first class, with its feather pillows, champagne and personal service, as a matter of routine and already has a plane named after him in the carrier's fleet.

As for being identified as the real Ryan Bingham – the character played by Clooney who seeks meaning in his life through continuous travel – Mr Stuker might balk a little.

He doesn't have a woman in every port and his story promises to end happily. Nor does he tire of the flying and he admits that if a week goes by without his getting on a plane he starts to get fidgety.

"People have vacation homes and I have United," he told ABC News in an interview a few months before his 10 million-mile achievement. "My family doesn't treat me as well as this, and I love my family."

While it took Mr Stuker almost 20 years to accumulate his first five million miles, he needed only another 10 years to reach 10 million.

He also claims that while he has 50 million frequent-flier miles in his account with United – points accumulate much faster than actual miles flown when you have his kind of elite status – he is never worried that he will not find ways to spend them, whether on still more flights with his wife and family or on other perks.

He once used his miles, for example, to buy himself the chance to play an extra on the US television sitcom Seinfeld. He was clearly visible in one episode, sitting in Jerry's favourite Manhattan restaurant.

United, which is in the process of merging with Continental, is using Mr Stuker's moment of fame to the full. The carrier is no doubt still smarting from the free advertising that its main rival in Chicago reaped from Up In The Air. Ryan Bingham did his 10 million miles on American Airlines.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk