New Jersey man flies 23m miles with lifetime United pass ‘like a King’

New Jersey man flies 23m miles with lifetime United pass ‘like a King’

New Jersey man flies 23m miles with lifetime United pass ‘like a King’

A US man who bought a lifetime pass from United Airlines three decades ago has “lived like a sultan” ever since, according to a report, flying multiples of miles more than the Apollo 11 spacecraft in the process.

Tom Studer, from New Jersey, paid $290,000 for the pass in 1990, according to the Washington Post, a decision he said is the “best investment of my life”.

In the 33 years since then, Stoker, 69, has flown more than 23m miles (37m km) – Apollo 11, which carried Neil Armstrong and his fellow astronauts to the moon, clocked a mere 953,000 miles (1.5m km) – and visited more than 100 countries.

Stoker’s mileage in 2019 alone “covered more than six trips to the moon”, the Post reported. That year Stoker took 373 flights, covering 1.46m miles. Had he paid cash for the flights, it would have cost $2.44m.

The real boon, however, appears to have been the frequent flier miles that Stoker has accrued along the way. In 2009 Stoker passed the 5m mile (8m km) mark, according to Simple Flying, passing the 10m mile mark in 2019.

He was the first United Airlines customer to do so, and the points have opened all kinds of doors.

“Stoker has lived like a sultan on United miles ever since – lavish hotel suites all over the world, weeks-long Crystal cruises, gourmet meals from Perth to Paris,” said the Post report, written by famed US sportswriter Rick Reilly.

He has also used the miles to “redo his brother’s house”, the Post said, and “once cashed $50,000 worth of Walmart gift cards in a single day”. Stoker also won a charity auction to appear in a Seinfeld episode by bidding 451,000 air miles.

There have also been some less enjoyable moments. He has witnessed four people die during his decades of flying, which Simple Flying calculated to be between “200 and 250 days a year in the air” before the Covid-19 pandemic slowed worldwide travel.

“All heart attacks,” Stoker told the Post. “I’d met a couple of them, too. Just died right in their seats. The last guy was up in business with me, Chicago to Narita [Tokyo]. They covered him with a blanket and put the seat belt back on.

“What else could they do? I guarantee somebody in business was thinking: ‘Hey, if he’s not gonna eat his chocolate sundae, would you mind … ?’”

Still, Stuker seems set on continuing flying. He and his wife have been on “more than 120 honeymoons”, according to the Post. As for the environmental impact, Stuker seemed unfazed in an interview with GQ in 2020.

“I’m not adding to the footprint,” Stuker said. “The plane is going to fly whether I’m on it or not. It would be much more relevant if I was flying in a private jet. Those are the people who can help the environment much more than I can if they flew commercial.”

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