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.
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 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.
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.https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/12/aeroflot-fails-to-see-the-funny-side-after-passengers-fat-cat-swap