New Jersey man dubbed ‘most traveled air passenger’ with nearly 24 million miles in the air

Tom Stuker made what he calls the best investment of his life in 1990 and purchased a “lifetime companion pass” with United Airlines.

Amanda Eustice

May 16, 2024, 1:02 AM

Updated 9 days ago

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They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. But in Tom Stuker's case - it's more like 23 million miles.
"What are the odds that someone took a picture of my very first United flight?” asks Stuker. Stuker is dubbed the world's most traveled air passenger - taking more than 12,000 flights and visiting more than 100 counties.
"I bought the pass for business reasons because I was going back and forth to Australia...So round trip was $25,000 a person for First Class, so two people is $50,000. So, understand I've been there 400 times, so I've got my money's worth," said Stuker.
The car dealership consultant made what he calls the best investment of his life in 1990 and purchased a “lifetime companion pass” with United Airlines. The pass, which United no longer offers, cost him $510,000 - more than $1.2 million in today's money. It allows him and another person to fly first class around the world whenever he wants.
A big investment, especially for a man who didn’t like planes.
"I was scared to death to fly. You know sometimes, people get prepared to fly, well sometimes I got real prepared. I mean I got nervous, especially when you're delayed with engine problems. That's all people need to hear,” says Stuker.
And getting prepared he something he still does today. He avoids baggage fees and skips lines. But the best perk?
"I can be in the air and we’re delayed and I'm going to miss my next flight, but I sit back and relax because when I get on the ground, they've already figured everything out. They have the boarding pass to my next flight. They literally will take me in a cart or even actually a Mercedes, Jaguar - whatever it is these days, and they'll go on the tarmac and drive me to my next plane,” Stuker says.
Stuker has met several celebrities on his flights, like members of Aerosmith and Bill Murray, whom he got to leave his brother a voicemail.
When he hit 10 million miles, United named two of their planes after him.
Now the world's most frequent flyer, he’s getting ready to “soar to new heights." Stuker will hit his 24 millionth mile on May 17, which surprises him.
"A. I was afraid to fly, B. Not in a million years, even when I hit 10 million, I was anointed the real ‘Up in the Air’ guy,” Stuker says.
So, will he ever stop flying? He says not until he has reached 25 million miles. But until then he'll sit back and relax in seat 1B, taking each mile at a time.


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