Just before Christmas we ran across this ABC News travel article, titled Frequent Flier VIP: Meet the Guy Who Never Waits at the Airport - Secret Frequent Flier Clubs Aren't Just for George Clooney and His New Movie, 'Up in the Air.'
It's an interview with Tom Stuker, a Global Services member of the United Airlines Mileage Plus Program who flies about 700,000 miles annually and has racked up nearly 8.8 million lifetime flying miles with them. As the article makes clear, UA and other major airlines maintain somewhat secretive invitation-only VIP programs to treat their highest spenders like royalty - UA's is Global Services or GS. Kathy and Brian, although UA 1Ks, definitely do not fall into that category, but enjoy reading about it.
We posted it on FlyerTalk here under our FT nom-de-cyber Fredd. Lo and behold, partway through the thread Tom Stuker himself weighed in, his FT handle being ua1flyer. In Post #71, he patiently explains to some incredulous FTers how he manages to fly so much more than they do:
About the miles. This year I will have flown just a little less than 700k, and yes that is BIS. With all this DEQM, my Total EQM will end up just shy of 1.5 million. As far as what I do, Ido sales and managment training. Where cars are sold is where I have the ability to work. Ifell in love with Australia and it's people about 25+ years ago and have trained there regularly since. I also vacation quite regularly. The woman I am involved with and I have taken at least 50 honeymoons in places all over the world. Life is to short. A while back I decide to work to live and not live to work. As I have mentioned previously, I have 2 sons, one in high school and the other works and travels with me a lot. He will become a million miler next month. P.S. I don't know who YOU work for , but if you work in the Auto industry, maybe you could use my help.
In the midst of this, Tom was also interviewed on Fox and Friends. United Airlines has to be happy with all of the favorable publicity Tom has generated for them, especially considering that the hero of the movie flies with American Airlines.
It was informative and fun to make contact with UA's highest flyer through FT. Maybe it also makes our 140,000 or so flying miles this year seem a little less eccentric. Maybe...
Incidentally, the director of Up in The Air, Jason Reitman, was interviewed on Oprah's website. He mentions FlyerTalk early on. You can find the interview here.
October 30 2011 Update: We finally get to really meet Tom Stuker in person.