Russian carrier Aeroflot has stripped a passenger of his air miles for breaching its rules by sneaking his overweight cat aboard a flight. Mikhail Galin, 34, took his cat Viktor on board flight SU1702, from Moscow to Vladivostok, Aeroflot said. Under Aeroflot’s rules, pets weighing more than 8kg (17lb) must be placed in the luggage hold. Because Viktor was too heavy for the passenger cabin, Mr Galin devised a cunning plan. He swapped Viktor for a smaller cat during check-in to get around the weight restrictions.
“The operation to replace the fat cat Viktor with a miniature cat Phoebe was successful — the scales showed an acceptable norm, and the airline employee kindly issued a boarding pass wishing a happy flight,” he wrote. After putting Phoebe through the weigh-in, Galin swapped her out with Viktor and boarded the plane. The pair made the journey without incident, but the viral Facebook post brought their adventure to the airline’s attention. After an “official investigation,” the airline decided to exclude Galin from its loyalty program and cancel his air miles for “several instances of deliberate violation” of its terms.
It even prompted a response from politician Vladimir Burmatov, who contacted the head of Aeroflot requesting the airline return Galin’s miles and revise its rules on transporting animals, according to Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti. However, Galin took a relaxed view of his punishment, telling that he recognizes that he broke the rules, which are important and should be respected.
“I got a penalty,” he said. “It’s normal.”
Aeroflot is one of the world’s oldest airlines, founded in 1923, and is owned by the Russian state.