THE world’s most frequent flyer has flown a staggering 21 million miles, circled the equator 844 times and earned himself a ‘mega-VIP status’.
Tom Stuker, a self-described “flying junkie”, spends 250 days of the year on a plane but claims that despite relentless flying itinerary, he can tackle jet lag.
The 65-year-old told The New York Post. “If I spend more than a week in one place, I’m like, ‘I gotta get back in the air.’ I’m more afraid to be on the ground than in the air.”
The Nutley New Jersey native flies exclusively with United Airlines since joining their rewards programme in 1983.
He claims his secret to getting through the long-haul flights is an Ambien and a strategic power nap.
Once arriving at the destination, Stuker reveals he takes a three-hour power nap to combat jet lag.
Some of his most notable miles include flying to Australia more than 350 times.
It was here where his jet-setting devotion began.
He said: “I fell in love with the country … I’ve been back over 350 times since.”
Often, Stuker only stays a day or two.
The married father-of-three says it’s “the romance” of flying, not the destinations, that’s his passion. For the most part, he’s traveling purely just to travel.
The committed frequent flyer said: “I just really love everything about flying.”
By 1997, Stuker’s obsession was beginning to get noticed.
He explained: “All of a sudden, after I hit 10 million [miles], I started getting into the world records and flying more competitively.”
I just really love everything about flying
And there are perks that come with being the top miles gatherer, including first-class seats and a “mega VIP status”.
United regularly treats him to a multitude of luxurious bonuses, like tarmac-transfer service in a Mercedes-Benz, complimentary cocktails, the ability to skip lines and membership in its exclusive Polaris Lounge — outfitted with showers, private offices and, often, a slew of celebrities.
On some first class jaunts, he’s sat next to Janet Jackson and Steven Tyler.
Once, he convinved Bill Murray to leave his brother a voicemail.
His trick is to “engage them in conversations they may have never had before” by asking “What was your biggest disappointment growing up?”
Being in the air so often means he get through the in-flight entertainment “in about a week”.
Instead, Stuker texts, watches sports and plans more trips.
This month he broke his record of 20 million miles — which was set only in January.
It’s the fastest he’s ever racked up a million miles.
Every trip Stuker takes is paid for out of his pocket, he says.
The miles he adds up go to family members, charities and others.
And for all that flying, his favourite place can be found at home.
“I don’t get to go there that often,” he said.
Earlier this year, the frequent flyer revealed some of the best ways to make journeys easier as well as getting better service from crew members.
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