Man who smuggled overweight cat into plane cabin stripped of frequent flyer status

Nov 13, 2019, 6:55 AM | Updated: 11:22 am
(Photo by Monty Fresco Jnr/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Monty Fresco Jnr/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
(Photo by Monty Fresco Jnr/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Talk of smuggling usually evokes images of drugs, guns and other contraband — but it was a fat cat that saw one man punished by Russian airline Aeroflot.

Mikhail Galin was stripped of his air miles after smuggling Viktor the cat into the cabin with him on a flight from Moscow to Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East.

While pets weighing under eight kilograms (17.6 pounds) are allowed in the cabin, heavier animals have to travel in the hold, according to Aeroflot rules.

Viktor the cat weighed in at 10 kilograms at check-in, and Galin wasn’t willing to send his furry friend below deck.

But Aeroflot check-in staff wouldn’t budge.

“To all attempts to explain that the cat won’t survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules,” Galin wrote in a Facebook post that went viral.

He decided to miss the flight and came up with a cunning plan to allow Viktor to travel in comfort.

“Next, a strategic decision was made to find a similar cat of less physical mass,” he wrote.

With the help of friends, Galin managed to find a “mini-Viktor” in Moscow and returned to the airport for another attempt at getting to Vladivostok.

“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.

“This information was confirmed by recording from video surveillance cameras — during the pre-flight inspection procedure, the passenger took out a large-sized cat that looks like a photograph of the cat he posted,” Aeroflot said in a statement.

The airline’s reaction caused an outcry on Russian social media, including memes of solidarity that translate as “Je Suis Fat Cat.”

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.

Galin did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Aeroflot is one of the world’s oldest airlines, founded in 1923, and is owned by the Russian state.

™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

All News

The Book of Mormon Art Catalog offers users a variety of ways to conduct specific searches and to b...
Devin Oldroyd

Book of Mormon digital visual art catalog launches Monday

A digital catalog of visual art inspired by the Book of Mormon became available on Oct. 3. It features more than 2,000 pieces.
18 hours ago
Mosquitos at a Utah lab are pictured....
Britt Johnson

Uptick in mosquitos in Utah caused by recent weather and temperatures

Mosquitos in Utah have seen a growth in population thanks to recent weather. While aggressive, they are not the disease-carrying breed.
18 hours ago
Arctic Monkeys pictured performing....
Waverly Golden

Arctic Monkeys coming to Salt Lake City in 2023

The Arctic Monkeys, the English rock band, announced their 2023 tour dates and Salt Lake City made the list. 
18 hours ago
Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill...
Simone Seikaly

Salt Lake County DA will not file charges in officer-involved incident

Salt Lake County DA Sim Gill says an incident on March 17, 2022, doesn't fall into the category of an officer-involved critical incident.
18 hours ago
University of utah sign pictured, an assault off campus at a frat house is being investigated...
Becky Bruce

SLCPD investigating reported sexual assault at frat house near University of Utah

An alert went out to University of Utah faculty, staff and students saying the sexual assault happened at the Pi Kappa Alpha frat house.
18 hours ago
The Cottonwood Colts football team  (Courtesy of Deseret News)...
Chandler Holt

Cottonwood High School wins football game in bizarre fashion

There are over 14,000 high school football teams in the United States. Cottonwood High School's game against Jordan had an ending you probably haven't seen before.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Young woman receiving laser treatment...
Form Derm Spa

How facial plastic surgery and skincare are joining forces

Facial plastic surgery is not only about looking good but about feeling good too. The medical team at Form Spa are trained to help you reach your aesthetic outcomes through surgery and through skincare and dermatology, too.
large group of friends tohether in a park having fun...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

What differentiates BYU’s MBA program from other MBA programs

Commitment to service is at the heart of BYU’s MBA program, which makes it stand out among other MBA programs across the country.
a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Man who smuggled overweight cat into plane cabin stripped of frequent flyer status