Monday, July 11, 2011

A Fate Worse than Death

I don't know how this guy did it:

EVEN frequent flyers get their 15 minutes of fame. Thomas Stuker, a car salesman from Chicago, has just completed 10m miles of flying with United Airlines, an achievement for which he has been roundly feted ( see video). It took him 29 years and 5,962 flights, but he has a plane named after him, he will never have to queue and, most remarkably perhaps, his wife hasn’t left him. (They do go on four or five honeymoons a year.)
Mr Stuker admits to feeling restless if a week passes and he hasn't flown anywhere. His skill with plastic cutlery must be superhuman, and he once had 23 consecutive meals on planes. Fly as much as Mr Stuker does and you should get an invitation to join Global Services, the slightly secretive top tier of United's frequent-flyer programme. This gives perks only dreamt of by the average flyer:
Fliers like Stuker arrive at special check-in areas where agents greet them by name and whisk away their bags. Their boarding passes are already printed, and at some airports an agent simply opens a hidden door, leading them to the very front of the security checkpoint line.
Most people have seen these passengers boarding planes before everybody else. They also get first choice of meals before the airline runs out of either beef or chicken, and there is even a special team dedicated to finding and delivering their lost luggage.
This was, of course, one of the plot devices used in the fairly over-rated movie Up in the Air ... but the thing that impresses me the most about this milestone isn't the outrageous number of miles the dude's logged, but the fact that he did all of them on United Airlines, which exists on the Great Chain of Customer Service Being somewhere between the iron maiden and having electrodes from a car battery attached to one's genitals.

Maybe I just haven't flown enough miles on United for them to start treating me with an ounce of human dignity (I assume this occurs right around the 1,000,000 miles mark). I was, however, happy to learn that even United's high rollers sometimes get their baggage lost, which is evidence that the airline hasn't just been singling me out for some twisted, Kafkaesque mind game enjoyed by employees over the airport's security cameras.

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