The Look Book Goes to the United First-Class Lounge

Where well-heeled travelers snack on kale salad and catch up on emails before their flights.

Tom Stuker, 67, Consultant and World’s Most Frequent Flier, en route to the U.K. Photo: Kyle Dorosz

How likely is it that we’d run into you here?
Very. I’m at the Polaris Lounge quite a bit. I hit my 10 million-mile flight in 2008 — they threw me a monster party at the lounge in Chicago. The next year, I started getting public attention because Up in the Air came out and the media was looking for a real-life George Clooney. Later, I got this email from this polite British guy that said, “Excuse me. I happen to be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s No. 1 flier.” His numbers did turn out to be a million more than mine. Nicest guy. Passed him about three years ago. But I’m not going to call the Guinness people, because he cares about it much more than I do.

So what are your weeks like?
I used to consult, but I’m semi-retired. For the past six years, I’ve flown about a million miles a year. I do some crazy things. A couple weeks ago, I was in D.C. and I called one of my friends’ dads and said, “Bill, there’s a plane that leaves for Dubai in four hours, let’s go.” We got there at 7 p.m. the next night, had a five-hour private tour of the city, then got on a plane back to D.C. at midnight. That kind of thing is run-of-the-mill for me.

Rael Elk, Physician, Ireland. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Christina Oppici, Executive Assistant, Italy. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Ray Ellison, Retired, Hong Kong. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Don McIsaac, Chief Financial Officer, China. Photo: Kyle Dorosz

How are the snacks?
You know, pretty lame. Except the cheese. I like the Gouda. And the water bottles. I fly 300,000 miles a year; I know how to hydrate.

Alicia Haskamp, Managing Director, Hong Kong. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Eric Zorn, Executive, Italy. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Jeff Mostyn, Football Chairman, U.K. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Horace Nowell, Retired, Germany. Photo: Kyle Dorosz

Where are you going?
Berlin, for holiday. I’m looking forward to visiting KaDeWe, a 100-year-old department store. The top floors have food stations, each of which carries Champagne, of course, and the shopping is very exclusive.

Robert Hall, Company Owner, Vietnam. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Lois Zorn, Retired Flight Attendant, Italy. Photo: Kyle Dorosz

Is it a special occasion?
Our 40th wedding anniversary. My husband sent a text to his friend saying, “I’m heading to Lake Como to unwind from Nantucket.” His friend was like, “I can’t really imagine having to unwind after Nantucket.”

David Butts, Executive, Hong Kong. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Davinder Singh, Professor, India. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Erhard Marius, Trader, France. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Nancy Gage, Company Director, Ireland. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Ivo Rook, Executive, France. Photo: Kyle Dorosz

First time in the lounge?
Oh, definitely no. I have five kids; two go to school in France, the other three in the Netherlands. I am a very regular occupant of this lounge.

Maureen Zakowski, Pathologist and Law Student, Spain. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Larry Rifkin, Self-Employed, Hungary. Photo: Kyle Dorosz
Sean Kerins, Executive, Italy. Photo: Kyle Dorosz

*This article appears in the October 14, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!

The Look Book Goes to the United First-Class Lounge