Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tom Stuker: The Ten Million Mile Man

Several months ago, I received a writing assignment from Global Traveler magazine to do a piece on the perks of being a very frequent flier.  For the piece, I had to interview Tom Stuker, the most frequent of frequent fliers.
Over the last 30 years, Stuker has flown over 10 million miles with United.  That's over 300,000 miles per year.  These are actual flown miles, not miles awarded through other means.
I met Stuker at the O'Hare Hilton for lunch and spent the next hour or so fascinated by his tales of flight and other related topics.  Stuker was such a delight.
Unlike George Clooney's character in Up in the Air, Stuker couldn't be more comfortable in the air or with his lifestyle.  He is very close to his family and flies with them for vacations.  He tries to see ballgames in the various cities when time permits.  He also views the United staff as his family (maybe because he sees them almost as much as his own family).
I really liked Stuker.  I expected more of a boring, all-business guy and I met a fun-loving, interesting guy.He even used some of his frequent flier points for a walk-on role on Seinfeld.  It was one of the final episodes...can anyone pin it down from the screen cap below?  (The answer is in the paragraph below the picture.)
Okay, I'll be honest.  I had to call in the big guns to nail down this episode.  My buddy Dave Zeman pinned it as the Janeane Garofalo episode.  Kudos to Dave on a job...done!
Dave is a legit Seinfeld historian, but his knowledge goes beyond Seinfeld.  He is the co-author of Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Firsts 2011 Edition and The Baseball Rookies Encyclopedia.
My piece on Stuker ran in a Global Traveler companion special magazine, City Guide, but it can be found here.  It does have a permanent place in cyberspace, as it is on the GT website.
This was a difficult piece to write, because I had to cram in a lot of info, but it was also a very fun piece.  Meeting Stuker and discovering what a unique person he was made this one of the most pleasant experiences of 2011.
Tom Stuker and me at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, IL-September 2011.

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