A man who sneaked his chubby cat on board a flight had his air miles stripped from him after the airline became aware of his crafty tactics.
Mikhail Galin, 34, was left in a bit of a pickle towards the end of last month when he was told his 10kg cat Viktor was too fat to fly in the cabin with him on a trip back to his home in Vladivostok.
It was during a layover in Moscow the Russian man was told the bad news, leading him to resort to desperate measures to get his pet cat on board with him.
Galin decided there and then he couldn’t leave his cat all alone to ride the eight hours home in luggage hold, so he missed his flight. Not giving up though, he came up with a ploy involving finding a similar-looking cat who weighed slightly less.
To do this, he posted a picture of Viktor on Facebook alongside the caption [translated into English]: ‘Friends from Moscow, who has a cat of a similar colour, help!!!’
He then returned to the airport two days later with his own cat, along with the skinnier version and its owners, before carrying out the swap and checking into business class.
Galin posted a photo of his chubby cat – who was 2kg more than the permitted weight – sitting contently on the plane on social media, showing him in his carrier and eyeing a glass of champagne.
The post quickly went viral and people commenting on the picture couldn’t get enough, calling Viktor the ‘luckiest’ cat for having such a thoughtful owner. One person wrote: ‘You’re a hero! Your cat is very lucky to be your pet.’
The same couldn’t be said for the airline, Aeroflot, which conducted an investigation into the matter using surveillance footage that recorded the entire swap. It found Galin broke airline rules by switching his cat for ‘a similar animal weighing [15lbs]’.
As punishment, Aeroflot removed Galin from its frequent flyer programme and took away his air miles, which were reported as standing at nearly 400,000.
The man later addressed the situation on Facebook, saying there should be an option to pay more to take heavier animals on board, as is the case with extra bag luggage. ‘It would be very nice if the situation began to change,’ he added.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).