05.10.2022

Aeroflot fails to see funny side of flier’s fat-cat swap

Mikhail Galin wrote in a Facebook post last week that his cat Viktor was judged too fat to be taken into the passenger cabin during a layover in Moscow on a trip from Latvia to his home in Vladivostok, in the far east of Russia.

The Russian airline Aeroflot has stripped a passenger of his air miles after he boasted online of sneaking his overweight cat onboard by switching him for a slimmer cat during check-in.

“The weigh-in showed that the animal had fattened up to 10kg, a level not allowed for the cabin,” Galin wrote. The cabin limit is 8kg.

Galin could not abandon his feline friend to the cold luggage hold, so he refused to fly and said he took a “strategic decision to find a similar cat of a lower weight” in Moscow.

The next day, Galin returned to the airport with Viktor, the cat double and its owners, and successfully checked into business class after “the operation to switch Viktor the fat cat for Phoebe the miniature kitty was successful”.

He posted a photo of Viktor sitting on the plane with a glass of bubbly, becoming an instant hit with Russia’s cat lovers.

Aeroflot, however, was in no mood for jokes and told AFP the incident had triggered an investigation.

View this post on Instagram

By popular demand. The journey of the cat Victor on the route Riga – Moscow – Vladivostok revealed 2 extra pounds in the animal, 1 responsible airline employee and a bunch of wonderful people in my friends. But first things first. Having passed all the checks at the Riga airport, my cat and I boarded a plane in the direction of Riga – Moscow. During takeoff and landing, Victor was shitty from the pressure drop, and for the whole flight (and he, in fact, consists of takeoff and landing) covered his ears and wiped drool that flowed in streams all over the cat, my arms and carrier. The cat did not understand what was happening and plaintively looked into my eyes in search of an answer. At the veterinary control, Viktor’s passport was stamped that the Motherland officially accepted it and we went to check in for the Moscow – Vladivostok flight. The line tape directed us to the most responsible employee of the airport, who measured all baggage measurements with a measuring tape (for the first time in my 300+ flights), placed each bag on the scales several times and said that the cat would also be weighed. The control weighing showed that the animal had eaten up to 10 kg, which was inadmissible for transportation in the cabin. After that, the lady solemnly announced that the cat was being taken into the luggage. To all attempts to explain that the cat will not fly 8 hours alive in the luggage and will appear to her in nightmares every night until the end of her life, she replied that she had rules and that she was not going to take responsibility for Victor’s 2 extra pounds in the aircraft cabin. The number of airline employees involved at my request to resolve the issue increased, but the verdict remained the same – Cat in baggage. But as Lenya Romanov said, “Bro should be there, bro is not luggage.” Having sent the entire delegation of the air carrier to a predetermined direction, handed them his boarding board and left the flight with all the luggage and a cat. Further, a strategic decision was made to search for a similar cat of lower physical mass. Thanks to my friends from Riga and Moscow, who actively took part in the search (for which I am infinitely grateful), the mini-Victor was found at my friend @nikabuka. A new problem arose – Did the tickets to Vladivostok for the next day’s flights cost 1000-1500 euros? Continuation ⬇️⬇️⬇️ mini-Victor was found at girlfriend @nikabuka There was a new problem – Did the tickets to Vladivostok for the next day’s flights cost 1000-1500 euros? Continuation ⬇️⬇️⬇️ mini-Victor was found at girlfriend @nikabuka There was a new problem – Did the tickets to Vladivostok for the next day’s flights cost 1000-1500 euros? Continuation ⬇️⬇️⬇️

A post shared by Mikhail Galin (@mikhail_galin) on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:20 pm PST

The investigation into the cat-swap revealed that Galin broke airline rules by switching Viktor for a similar animal weighing 7kg, which was confirmed on video surveillance footage, the airline said.

“Aeroflot has taken the decision to take this passenger out of its frequent flyer programme. All of the miles collected during his time in the programme will be annulled.” Galin had nearly 400,000 miles on his account, according to reports.

The decison angered many Russians, with some saying it amounted to fat-shaming and others attempting to start a flashmob in protest.

“Offending a kitty! Nobody will forgive this,” wrote Bozhena Rynska. Other owners of large pets feared that Galin’s disclosures could prompt the airline to tighten restrictions, making the trick impossible to repeat.

“Many of us often quietly flew around with our fat kitties, and now we won’t be able to,” Svetlana Pogorelskaya said on Facebook.

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