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Man With 10 Million Air Miles Gets Plane Named After Him 249

Posted by samzenpus
from the fly-me-to-the-moon dept.
Chicago car salesman Thomas Stuker has set a record by accumulating an astonishing 10 million air miles on United Airlines. In the past 29 years Thomas has flown almost 6,000 times - racking up a total mileage that would circle the Earth 400 times. From the article: "Mr Stuker has already been highly rewarded with access to a special lounge at the airlines hub in Chicago, first-class upgrades as a matter of course and even a plane named after him on the fleet."
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Man With 10 Million Air Miles Gets Plane Named After Him

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @10:54AM (#36734054)

    Congratulations, sir and welcome to first-class. Here is your 4-ounce Dr. Pepper and complimentary half-bag of potato chips.

    • by onkelonkel (560274) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @10:58AM (#36734138)
      You're doing it wrong. You should be working on your second Rusty Nail about the time the economy class passengers are filing by your seat.
      • by Dahamma (304068)

        True, he has clearly never flown first class. I don't usually either, but the last time I got upgraded it was a 7am flight. I asked for some orange juice, and the attendant asked "how about a mimosa?" I was in fact on my second one before we started taxiing :)

    • by Ogive17 (691899)
      What do you fly? I fly coach and have touched just about every major US airline in the past 3 years.. they always give me a full can of soda and if I get thirsty later in the flight they will give me a 2nd can if I request.

      I agree with you about the snack, though. Need 4 or 5 of those to tide me over on a cross-country filght. But again, usually once everyone has gotten 1 they will let you have more.
      • Mid 1990s, American Airlines, Miami to Boston - 6+ hours in the air non-stop. One time I got a 3/4 ounce bag of peanuts. The next time I flew that route it was only 1/2 ounce of peanuts.

        If I was about to faint, I'm sure I could have begged for more, they might have even had some stale soda crackers available, upon request.

        • One time I got a 3/4 ounce bag of peanuts. The next time I flew that route it was only 1/2 ounce of peanuts.

          I once drove my car six hours from Vancouver, BC to Portland OR. NO ONE gave me free food! Can you believe it? I actually had to bring my own in the car.

    • It's weird. The labor cost of passing out the tiny snacks must exceed the cost of the tiny snacks.

      Perhaps the tiny portions mean that most of the snacks are completely consumed, simplifying waste cleanup.

      • The labor costs of passing out the tiny snack are irrelevant, because the god damn waitress can't just open the flight deck door and go home while the plane is 30,000 feet in the air!
        • by kbolino (920292)

          That may be true, but they wouldn't need as many stewardesses in the first place if they didn't serve food and drinks.

          • by MooUK (905450)

            There are legal requirements for the number of passengers per cabin crew member, for safety purposes. I believe it's in the region of one per fifty passengers. Since you have to have them on the plane, they might as well sell stuff.

      • by bberens (965711)
        I remember a story from back in the 90s where apparently Delta or one of the other big airlines reduced the number of peanuts in the peanut package by 1 peanut and it saved the company millions of dollars. When you do things on a massive scale it's amazing how much tiny little changes add up.
      • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @11:21AM (#36734608)

        It's weird. The labor cost of passing out the tiny snacks must exceed the cost of the tiny snacks.

        The labor cost is free. Instead of doing nothing, the steward(ess) is passing out snacks. It's not like they'll hire more people to pass out snacks... but the FAA requires them to have so many people onboard already.

        Now, if you don't get your 2nd snack b/c the steward(ess) is busy, then they don't give a damn.

        Besides, every time you ask for a refill is another attempt to get you to buy an alcoholic beverage/meal/whatever other upcharge.

      • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @11:21AM (#36734616)

        The "service" personnel in coach are actually safety officers - but rather than have them sit around looking like air marshals, they attempt to get them to keep the customers happy. Of course, at the wages they pay, it's amazing there aren't more dramatic Take this Job and Shove It [nbcnewyork.com] events.

    • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @11:14AM (#36734482)

      Here is your 4-ounce Dr. Pepper and complimentary half-bag of potato chips.

      Apparently, you've never flown First Class. On a KLM hop from London to Amsterdam, I sat in First - the chips and soda were in the back, but it was lunchtime and a decent meal was provided in First. More impressive than the food was the fact that one man took a little longer to finish than the rest of us. When he did hand his tray to one stewardess, another stewardess pressed a button that set off a chime in the cockpit - within 5 seconds the pilot announced and started our descent into Amsterdam.

      If you're not paying full fare, you're just baggage.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by heroid1a (1898046)
        Soooo if he never finished eating, the plane would never land? Hmmmmm...
        • He paid for his seat, and he was given consideration in return, I imagine after they burned a few hundred pounds of jet fuel waiting for him they might have prompted him to finish up, but that's not how it worked out that day.

          • by Raenex (947668)

            He paid for his seat, and he was given consideration in return

            By being inconsiderate to all the other passengers on the plane, including first class ones. This story doesn't make any sense.

            • Most times I eat lunch at a restaurant, I end up waiting for the entire table to finish before our check(s) are brought around - this wasn't much different - about 12 seats total in First that day. As to whether or not it makes sense, it was something I experienced - I have experienced lots of things that make less sense than this.

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            there's a certain amount of float about when the announcement to land can be made, so they used that. big deal.

      • by EvilStein (414640)

        Or he did.. and it was on US Airways. Their first class in the US is awful.

        • I think I've flown about five times since 9/11, but before that I did fly fairly often. First Class, and even Business on American meant something back in the day - access to nice lounges, good service to go with the big seats. United wasn't bad, either. Earlier poster isn't kidding about being on your 2nd drink before the back rows are permitted to board.

      • Last time my father flew first class, they gave him a glass of champagne almost as soon as he sat down. In fact, they were so generous, they also gave his laptop one! He sticks to business class now...
      • International flights and flights on european airlines and in first class are a different animal entirely. I flew on Air Canada in first class and received two meals (microwave dinners, but hey), abundant snacks and alcohol, etc. for a 7 hour flight.

        Domestic airlines in the US, beaten to a pulp by labor unions and rising fuel prices, cut every corner possible while increasing fares and fees and still are on the financial brink.

      • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @01:11PM (#36736328)

        That sounds remarkably like a coincidence of timing. The flight attendants do tell the pilot when the passengers have started/finished eating/getting snacks and when they have finished picking up baggage, but not with a chime. That's what the little phones with blinky lights are for.

        The chime that she pressed was likely letting the pilots know that the attendants are done and can now sit down and buckle up - something still required of them during takeoff and landing. The pilots, furthermore, have the discretion to begin an ascent/descent at any time they wish, by simply requesting it of the ATC operator. It is probably the case that they started descending to avoid weather, traffic, or some other factor...or simply because the pilot felt like beginning his descent at that point. Pilots will rarely ever wait until the last waypoint they cross before an altitude requirement to begin a descent - that means steep drops that upset passengers' stomachs.

        A plane will never hold a landing for a passenger, unless there is a security issue with said passenger, or a medical emergency which would be worsened on descent. Even if you're in first class: if you take too long to eat, the attendants will still come by and tell you it's time to pack it up and stow the tray table.

    • If you ask for a can of pop, they'll give you a can of pop, even in coach, dude.

    • In first class, the other half of that drink is booze.
      • by w_dragon (1802458)
        And if it isn't they'll pester you until it is. I had a bit too much in the lounge waiting for a delayed flight once, and the flight attendant checked quite a few times to make sure I knew the drink was complimentary and was I sure I just wanted coke? I guess not many people flying first class need to drive themselves home from the airport when they land :)
  • by suso (153703) * on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @10:57AM (#36734106) Homepage Journal

    He is still alive.

    • by mr1911 (1942298) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @11:02AM (#36734232)
      He may be alive, but is he sane? I can't imagine dealing with TSA, gate agents, and all of the other hassles that go with air travel that many times.
      • by RazzleFrog (537054) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @11:10AM (#36734388)

        He flies first class. They actually get to molest TSA agents instead in first class.

      • He may be alive, but is he sane? I can't imagine dealing with TSA, gate agents, and all of the other hassles that go with air travel that many times.

        It's like any other B.S. in life, if you do it enough, it doesn't bother you. TSA will always be a sore spot for a lot of people because they just don't encounter it often enough to develop the social callouses.

        • by Abstrackt (609015) on Tuesday July 12, 2011 @11:46AM (#36735056)

          It's like any other B.S. in life, if you do it enough, it doesn't bother you. TSA will always be a sore spot for a lot of people because they just don't encounter it often enough to develop the social callouses.

          I fly at least monthly and it still bothers me, it has since 2001. The only way to get through the TSA line quickly is to smile politely and be half-naked by the time it's your turn. Take off your belt, stuff your watch in your jacket pocket before it goes through the X-ray (because they tell you to keep it on, it always beeps though, leading to a pat down), remove your shoes and hold your boarding pass in your teeth so your hands are free to throw everything on the belt. It kind of takes the fun out of traveling for some reason....

          • by enjerth (892959)

            Sounds like some kind of dance.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            stuff your watch in your jacket pocket before it goes through the X-ray (because they tell you to keep it on, it always beeps though, leading to a pat down)

            "Watch"? Isn't that one of those quaint old devices people used to wear on their wrists to tell the time, before the invention of cellphones?

            • by Abstrackt (609015)

              stuff your watch in your jacket pocket before it goes through the X-ray (because they tell you to keep it on, it always beeps though, leading to a pat down)

              "Watch"? Isn't that one of those quaint old devices people used to wear on their wrists to tell the time, before the invention of cellphones?

              It's also a device that doesn't need charging, can be used as a compass if the sun's up and depending on where you're traveling, is less likely to be stolen due to the relative difficulty of removing it from your person.

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                I can't say I've ever worried much about my cheap (free actually, with 2-year plan) cellphone being stolen. And since I carry it on me at all times, I've never had much trouble keeping it charged.

      • Honestly flying coach and flying business/first class are totally different experiences, as someone who flies both rather regularly. As a coach passenger you are really treated more akin to luggage. The upper classes come with automatic respect (except of course from the coach passengers). Even the TSA experience is usually better, though shoes come off so they can better grab your sack no matter what your ticket says.

        One interesting observation, in the articles photo he is flanked by two attractive fl
        • 10 million *air* miles. He's got 50M frequent flyer miles.
        • he is flanked by two attractive flight attendants.

          I don't want to sound harsh, but if that's what you consider attractive, more power to you. The one on the right is somewhat attractive, but neither is what I would consider to be the typical "attractive" flight attendant.
        • by mr1911 (1942298)
          I have flown business and first class quite regularly, and although it does remove some of the negative aspects of air travel, I certainly would not classify any experience as fun.
          • When I have flown first class there are two possible scenarios that numb the thrill:

            1. Employer wants me to fly out tomorrow at 12 hours notice and there are no economy seats left.
            2. Employer wants me to fly out tomorrow at 12 hours notice and any economy ticket will be returned with a suggestion of where to put it.

            Either way, I'm inevitably flying home on the cheapest ticket they can find. One time I flew out in first class and went back on a train (1100KM).

    • Any armchair physicists care to calculate his levels of radiation exposure when you combine the flight time with the new-fangled porno-scanners? :)

      Poor guy, he's gone through more than anyone should have to endure.

      • by glwtta (532858)
        Any armchair physicists care to calculate his levels of radiation exposure when you combine the flight time with the new-fangled porno-scanners? :)

        Unless my math is way off, 20,000 hours of flight time is about 50 mSv total. So he could take five times that in a single dose and likely not suffer any ill effects.

        The porno-scanners are negligible (at least the published numbers for the porno-scanners are).

        As usual, people freak out about the least likely dangers - he's way more likely to die of a pu
  • Did he get to meet Sam Elliot?
    Oh wait, that was Jeff Bridges...
  • Check my math... 10e6 miles / 0.5e3 miles per hour = 20e3 hours, right? Did this in my head and its early in the morning... Standard work year is about 2e3 hours so he's spent 10 years equivalent of a full time job sitting in an airplane? With airport hassles he's probably up to 15 years of FTE work?

    What has he done with his 15 years of "work"? Are there even 20k hours of audio books worth listening to?

    Another back o ye envelope 10e6 miles / 6e3 flights = 1.2/3e3 miles per flight or rephrased 1667 miles

    • He likely slept through a lot of it.

    • by halivar (535827)

      No, see, he's been flying west the whole time, so he gets more hours per day.

    • I get the same thing, but if you look at it another way - ~20 hours a week for 29 years, he could have conceivably just been traveling an average of 4 hours a day and spending the rest of his time getting to and from the airport, with an occasional sales meeting thrown in.

      Be careful of job offers from companies that are just starting a big vendor qualification push - there is usually an engineer or two who lives this constant travel lifestyle for a year or two during fresh vendor qualifications for a signif

    • He was porking the cute airline stewardesses...
    • by arisvega (1414195)

      more averages;

      6000/30 flights/year ~ 200 flights/year

      Say his work days are Mon - Fri, that would be 52*5 = 260 working days per year. Assuming his flights are on working days and an even spread, ~4 out of his 5 working days involve a flight - for the past 29 years!

      The airline should put a statue of him on display, this is far beyond the "naming planes out of you" point.

    • Double miles? Relatives in India? Who knows. When I traveled to Australia/New Zealand and back I got a LOT more than 1667 miles...

  • The article tries to compare him to George Clooney's character in Up In The Air. Reading the article (I know, we don't do that here) suggests there is a better comparison, based on what he does for a living.

    I think he is more like Jeremy Piven's character in The Goods.

    Of course, I am one of about 20 or so people who actually bothered to see that movie, so the comparison is likely lost on most. So we might as well instead compare him to a character in a well-known movie that nobody watched, instead o
    • by Ksevio (865461)
      In Up In The Air, a big plot point is getting 10 million air miles. As the article is about the guy's achievement of getting 10 million air miles, not being a car dealer, it makes more sense to compare him to George Clooney.
  • How about buying some TSA patdown free-pass with some of is miles?

    It would be very cool if you could avoid some sexual harassment with your hard-earned miles no?

  • The ones I know of are sitting in dealerships waiting for suckers, er, customers to walk into the showroom.

  • Quick, somebody add his name to the no-fly list!

    ;-)

  • They should promote him to an Honorable Member of mile-high club.

    • by psyclone (187154)

      At this point, I'm sure he is already a regular member and does not need to be honorifically admitted.

  • A car salesman who only flies? Must be pretty good on the theory.
  • Its happened to me once in about 200 flights.
  • I must be missing something about US air travel. I used to fly between the UK and Europe and between the UK and USA, economy I never ever had any problem getting a drink or six. Normally on a long haul flight overnight I would have a couple of drinks from the trolley and then I would ask for more whenever I wanted them. I was always cheerfully supplied with drinks (whisky and lemonade) and had a restful sleep. Same with the UK/European flights. I usually pushed the boat out on the way home since most of tho
  • Let's not forget this Merchant of Death has blood on his hands.
    While he was racking up millions of miles in his aluminum skinned ivory tower, this DEALER was peddling steel coffins to the poor and unfortunate souls who braved the gauntlet of traffic EVERY DAY to get where they need to go.
    MILLIONS have died while he coursed through the skies in near-perfect safety.
    While he may fancy himself a god, pulling his chariot through the sky, he may find himself an Icarus treading too close to the sun.
    Repent your sin

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