This story reminded me of a crazy subplot in the Adam Sandler move “Punch-Drunk Love” where he figured out a loophole and by purchasing 12,150 cups of Healthy Choice pudding for just $3,000, he accumulated 1.25 million air miles.

OK, fine. That’s fiction. But try 23 million air miles and counting already redeemed.

This strange story of a deal United Airlines long ago regretted centers around a Jersey guy. Well, of course, it would.

Tom Stuker is a 69-year-old auto dealership consultant from New Jersey. He’s also a mad genius. Way back in 1990 when Tom was in his thirties, United Airlines ran a promotion they surely regret. For the price of $290,000 they offered a lifetime pass. Unlimited.

United Airlines Completes Largest-Ever U.S. Airline Order For Widebody Jets
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Now people didn’t use to fly as much then as they do today. But even by today's standards when the average person flies 208 times over an entire lifetime United had to figure they were in good shape. $290,000 divided by 208 flights would be $1,394.22 per flight, far more than most flights would have cost back then. Also, Stuker was already in his 30s. How many flights could a guy take?

So, Stuker took the deal and invested that whopping $290,000 and what he’s done ever since makes it look like chump change.

He flies constantly. According to the Washington Post he has flown more air miles than any human being in history. More than pilots. More than astronauts.

He has flown 23 million miles. He once flew 12 straight days never sleeping in a bed. Just kept going on a loop from Newark Liberty International Airport to San Francisco to Bangkok to Dubai and back to Newark over and over and over again.

United Airlines Completes Largest-Ever U.S. Airline Order For Widebody Jets
Getty Images


Not just loving to fly. Being an airline passenger sort of became a job. Because he soon realized he wasn’t only getting flights all prepaid but he was earning frequent-flier miles. And frequent-flier miles weren’t only good for booking more flights (he didn’t need them for that, remember?) they could be redeemed through United for posh hotel suites and cruises and gourmet restaurants all over the world.

Yes, he did that.

He’s even redeemed frequent-flier miles for enough gift cards to pay for a full renovation of his brother’s home. $50,000 in one day.

Craziest of all? He even once bid 451,000 miles at a charity auction and won an appearance in a “Seinfeld” episode. It’s the one where Susan the fiancé dies from licking envelopes. Tom Stuker is seen in the diner.

The airline knows him by first name. They like him. They stopped the $290,000 deal long ago, but him they like. A case of hate the game not the player. His favorite seat is 1B whenever possible. He’s flown so much he’s witnessed someone die on his flight four different times.

Nothing phases this guy. Nor should anything. He not only beat the system. He’s from Jersey.

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