Russian airline Aeroflot on Tuesday stripped a passenger of his air miles after he boasted online of sneaking his overweight cat on board a plane by switching him for a slimmer cat during check-in.
Mikhail Galin wrote on Facebook 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.
“The weigh-in showed that the animal had fattened up to 10kg, a level not allowed for the cabin,” where the limit is 8kg, Galin wrote.
However, he could not abandon his nervous feline friend to the cold luggage hold, so he refused to fly and took a “strategic decision to find a similar cat of a lower weight” in Moscow.
The next day, Galin went to the airport prepared with “the cat, the cat double and its owners,” and checked into business class after “the operation to switch Viktor the fat cat for Phoebe the miniature kitty was successful.”
He posted a photograph of happy Viktor sitting on the plane with a glass of bubbly, becoming an instant hero for Russia’s cat lovers.
However, Aeroflot was in no mood for jokes and said that the incident had triggered an investigation.
The probe into the cat swap showed 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 program. All of the miles collected during his time in the program will be annulled,” it said.
Some reports said that Galin had nearly 400,000 miles on his account.
Many Russians were fuming over the decision, with some saying it amounted to fat-shaming, while others attempted to start a protest flash mob.
“Offending a kitty! Nobody will forgive this,” socialite Bozhena Rynska wrote.
Other owners of overweight 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 told Galin on Facebook.
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