I am a MillionMiler on United Airlines and I like to tell people that it was “a million miles for love.”
I met my wife-to-be Heidi while working in Germany for Star Alliance in 2011. We were next door neighbors.
Trouble is, I only worked up the courage to ask her out in my final month in Germany – talk about hello, goodbye. Our first date, if you even want to call it that, was going to the Christmas Market in Frankfurt with a group of friends. They conveniently left us alone and we had a nice chat.
On our way back to the U-Bahn we stopped along Frankfurt’s central shopping district, the Zeil, for a man who was cutting out silhouettes of your face for a small tip. He had sheets of black paper and would squint intently at your face then go to work on the paper with his scissors. I agreed to let him try our faces. Heidi’s turned out nicely, though mine was not impressive. It was still a nice souvenir of our first date. We agreed to meet for dinner a few days later.
Only I stood Heidi up. I had a last-minute work dinner that night and figured, like most men who shy away from commitment, we had just talked about dinner and had not made definitive plans. I left a handwritten note on my kitchen table (where we agreed to meet) breaking the date and did not think twice about it. No guilt, no remorse, typical guy right?
The next evening I was working in my room and heard a loud knock. It was Heidi.
She could have called me a cad and proclaimed that she never wanted anything to do with me again, but instead she calmly told me how much I had hurt her and yet that she had a feeling I would do this…I was known as the one who was always on a plane and who worked long, long hours. That hurt.
She gave me a hug and said that she did not want me to return to the USA while she was angry at me. She forgave me. Then she walked out.
I sat for many minutes thinking about what a fool I had been. But was it worth even pursuing this further when I was flying home to LA the next day?
Of course it was.
I pulled out a sheet of paper to write Heidi a letter but then rummaged through my bag and pulled out the black silhouette of my face. Turning it over, I wrote a note to Heidi (the backside was white) telling her how much I enjoyed her company, respected her, apologized for ditching our second date, and requested that we stay in touch.
The next morning I handed it to my roommate with the simple instruction to give it to Heidi.
A couple weeks went by and I had already settled back into my life in LA. Admittedly, Heidi was still on my mind often, but I figured she had moved on and I would as well.
Then an envelope arrived from Germany. It was from Heidi.
Her words were beautiful and melted my heart. Of course she wanted to stay in touch and proposed a weekly call on Skype.
Thus began our long-distance relationship, spanning over 2.5 years before we finally tied the knot in 2014.
It was not always Skype calls, though. I was a regular on UA900 from San Francisco to Frankfurt and I ended up spending almost as much time in Germany as I did in LA by the time we got engaged (a wonderful benefit to my work-from-anywhere job).
Respect grew into admiration and admiration into love, a match made in heaven but an improbable one considering it was a girl from the Black Forrest of Germany who liked riding horses and milking cows to a city slicker from the City of Angels who enjoyed flying first class and vacationing in Afghanistan.
Back and forth between Frankfurt, always on United, led to a nice cache of miles and eventually MillionMiler status with the program, lifetime Star Gold status which I hope to use to take Heidi into lounges for the rest of our lives (she loves lounges – we even had a date in the Lufthansa Senator Lounge in Frankfurt…).
In looking back at the story of my life, in which chapters are thankfully still being written, United once again played a big role in it. You ask me how I love United Airlines and my answer is, “Let me count the ways”. It is certainly a different love than the love I have for my wife, but nevertheless an endearing relationship that has made so much possible in my life.
It is not just the LAX hub, new lounge, or even the loyalty program that keep me fiercely loyal to United – it is the history we share, the memories that were built thanks to the Friendly Skies. A million miles for love, indeed.
>> Read More: A Love Affair with United Airlines