DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Racking-up 10-million frequent flier miles, like the George Clooney character in “Up in the Air” sounds like something you only see in the movies until you meet Jack Vroom of Dallas.
“I amassed not quite 38 million miles,” Vroom said.
Vroom started accumulating miles in 1989 when bought a lifetime, first class travel ticket for himself and any companion, from American Airlines for $350,000 plus interest.
“I paid it out over five years. The total amount all together was perilously close to $500,000,” he said.
Los Angeles Times reporter Ken Bensinger first reported his story and others like his last weekend.
Vroom, a catalog marketing representative, flew to places like St. Louis for business. He remembers flying to Italy for parts.
“Flew to Milan and drove from Milan to pick up some exhaust pipes for a motorcycle I had,” he said.
Vroom said he would help people get to where they needed to go by taking them on as companions.
He said he helped people with AIDS fly home to their families.
He was helping his daughter’s college friend fly home from London when his travels came to a halt.
“I got there. He was nowhere to be found. Turns out, he was being interrogated in some windowless room by people I came to think of as jack-booted thugs – from American asking him what kind of nefarious stuff was going on,” Vroom said.
He says American accused him of selling his companion tickets and they wanted to know if the young man had paid Vroom for the trip.
Vroom said there was nothing in the contract he signed that said he couldn’t receive compensation.
American, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy protection, said they had issues with Vroom but wouldn’t elaborate.
In a lengthy statement an American spokesperson said:
“Our AAirpass program, including unrestricted, fixed-rate air travel to both domestic and international markets, is expected to remain unchanged.”
“In addition, all VIP AAirpass privileges, including complimentary Admirals Club membership, Priority AAcess privileges, companion travel benefits and AAdvantage mileage accrual are expected to remain intact during the Chapter 11 process.”
“As part of our ongoing security practices and normal business operations at American Airlines, we actively analyze all of our ticketing and program policies for any improper activity, including with our AAirpass accounts.”
“If we determine that any activity has violated our policies or is fraudulent in nature, including the non-fraudulent provisions that were included in these original contracts in question, we take the actions we deem appropriate.”
AA took away Vroom’s lifetime ticket in 2009, the same year “Up in the Air” came out.
“Ha! I’m not smart enough to know about those things like coincidence,” he said.
How did he accumulate 38-million flier miles? Vroom says, he bought them.
Vroom says he’s not going to fight AA, though he had retained some attorneys. He’s hoping AA reinstates him.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the last time American offered the unlimited AAirpass was back in 2004.
It was in the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog. The price of a single seat was $3 million. The companion seat was offered for an additional $2 million. Nobody bought them.
For the Los Angeles Times’s more detailed story, click here.