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Bug Hunter Earns 15 Million United MileagePlus Miles

Georgia Tech student started to earn miles to see girlfriend, but continued for the challenge.

United Airlines’ most successful bug hunter isn’t an engineer for the company, but a student who has earned 15 million MileagePlus miles for successfully turning computer glitches in to the airline’s bug bounty program. Business Insider reports Georgia Tech student Ryan Pickren has become the top bug hunter for United, earning more than anyone else has through the program.

Pickeren began his bug hunting with United in the hopes he could have enough miles to see his girlfriend in Atlanta on a regular basis. However, his natural knack for computers kept him challenged, leaving Pickeren to amass MileagePlus miles for each of his submissions. He told Business Insider that he continued doing it because he “quickly realized how fun looking for bugs was.”

At the rough value of around two cents per mile, Pickren’s bug hunting has earned him over $300,000 worth of travel with United, valid anywhere the carrier goes. However, because he has so many miles, the computer engineer has donated one-third of his earnings – 5 million MileagePlus miles – to his school for charitable works, including powering international projects with Engineers without Borders. The donation was a nod back to Georgia Tech, to whom Pickren gives partial credit for his success.

“I love everything about the school, the faculty, professors, students, and facilities,” Pickeren told Business Insider. “I’m a die-hard ramblin’ wreck.”

Although Pickren is the most successful bug hunter under United’s program, he is not the only one to amass seven-digit award mileage with the legacy carrier. Earlier this year, a Dutch hacker earned one million MileagePlus miles for turning over 20 computer bugs to United for review.

[Photo: United Airlines]

Comments are Closed.
kkua September 28, 2016

Article fails to follow up with the "rewarded" miles. Residents in the USA will face a big tax bill since it will be considered income. http://zfasel.com/blog/2016/02/28/United-Bug-Bounty-Program-Headaches-Continue/

psusaver September 28, 2016

Hmm.. Aren't yellow jackets themselves "bugs"? I guess it takes one to get one :P

TechMarauder September 21, 2016


CDKing September 21, 2016

They should have done this years ago but I'm not a snitch

The_Bouncer September 20, 2016

I really wish I had been more of a geek at school!