CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago area man will reach a milestone that no other United Airlines traveler has ever reached this weekend.
As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports, Tom Stuker, 57, of Bloomingdale, says he used to be afraid to fly.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports
“I had a tremendous fear of flying the early ’80’s,” Stuker said. “I went from being scared to death of flying to being nervous if it’s been a week and I haven’t been on an airplane.”
When he arrives at O’Hare International Airport on Saturday, Stuker will be the first to reach 10 million miles on United.
“I’ve been to every continent and to over 100 countries,” he said. “I went about 15 years without being in one of my homes for more than a week.
“I know I fly a lot,” he continued. “Once I hit the six and the seven, and God willing I stay healthy, maybe someday 15 or 20.”
Stuker is a consultant for the Auto Industry and does business all over the world. He’s been to Australia over 200 times. He says being a frequent flier has its perks.
“I got a shot on a ‘Seinfeld’ show — one of the final episodes. I got a plane named after me. Every time I hit another milestone, they send me a case of champagne,” he said. “When I call the 800 number, they recognize my voice.”
Stuker’s 10 million miles aren’t just regular frequent flyer miles, which can also be accrued through credit card purchases without flying. The 10 million miles are actual miles flown in the air.
“United is a purist. You have to earn the miles. You have to literally BIS, butt in seat. I kinda saw it coming.”
He says he still wants to go to South Africa, Bora Bora and travel on the Orient Express.
Stuker will soon be the star of his own reality show on Spike TV.
Stuker joined the Mileage Plus program in 1983 and has been logging miles ever since. He has flown on 5,962 United flights. United plans a big party when he arrives back in Chicago tomorrow at 5 p.m.