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Traveler flies high with 10 million miles


When Tom Stuker telephones United Airlines to reserve a flight, all he has to say is "Hi."

The agent on the other end of the line will immediately recognize who is calling and take special care of the traveler United calls its "number one customer."

Meet the man many people have compared to George Clooney's character in "Up in the Air." Over the weekend, Stuker became the first person ever to reach the 10 million mile mark in United's Mileage Plus program.

Stuker, a Chicago-based consultant for the automotive industry, has flown on almost 6,000 United flights since 1982. He travels extensively for business and pleasure, noting that he's taken about 60 honeymoons with "the woman of my dreams" in the last 15 years.

"I love travel. I got hooked a long time ago, whether it's the Louvre in Paris or the pyramids or an African safari, I just really like seeing the world," Stuker said.

"If I go a week or two without flying, I get really jumpy and really antsy because I find so much solace, so much peace when I fly. I'm so relaxed."

He flies first class, of course, and gets VIP treatment as a member of United's exclusive Global Services program for super elite frequent fliers. Membership "comes with many benefits that we actually don't publicize," United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said.

World is small for mileage millionaires

On Saturday, the airline feted Stuker at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, naming a Boeing 747-400 in his honor for the occasion and presenting him with a first-ever Titanium United Mileage Plus card.