Over the weekend, I hopped on a short flight to LAX and back. I packed no liquids, cracked a hilarious joke to the TSA guy who pulled me out of line to escort me politely past the porno-scanner, and carried my boarding pass and ID casually in my teeth as I slipped my laptop back into my backpack and walked away in record time. For a few minutes, I felt like a total travel badass who flies standby on a whim, packs masterfully, and even remembers to wear stretchy pants for the flight.
But then there’s Tom Stuker, who, on the other hand, seems to be an actual air travel badass. When he flies out of LA, he doesn’t occasionally get lucky enough to escape a public frisking. No, when he flies out of LA, United Airlines packs him a picnic lunch just because they know he’s a “sandwich guy.” And over the weekend, as I could barely contain my glee when I was offered a refill on my mid-flight complimentary red wine, Tom Stuker was in the air as well — first class, of course — becoming the first person ever to hit the 10 million mile mark in United’s Mileage Plus program.
Since 1982, Stuker has flown on almost 6,000 United flights, including enough flights from the US to Australia to rack up 4 million miles, plus about 60 honeymoons with his wife. As much as I can’t stand out-of-touch wealthy big-timers, I can’t really decide if Stuker qualifies. Is he returning the favor to United for 19 years of sandwiches and “special brownies” by talking up the benefits of their mileage plan or is he just an entitled prick who wants to brag? Or maybe I just have a soft spot for men who refer to their significant others as “the woman of my dreams.”
Nonetheless, interviews with travelers who, in one way or another, I’m totally jealous of are always good for a little bit of travel inspiration. After reading this interview, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about where I’d like to fly next and how long it would take me to rack up a few million miles. Deserving of the celebration or not, maybe Stuker — like me — does just really like seeing the world.
Read the full interview at CNN.com, and tell me just how much you think I’m over-analyzing in the comments below.