A Russian man who smuggled his overweight puss aboard an Aeroflot flight and bragged about it on social media has been booted from the airline's frequent flier program.
In post-soviet Russia, rules break you! Mikhail Galin learned this lesson the hard way after Aeroflot – Russia's national air carrier – docked his frequent flier account 370,000 miles before canceling his membership. Dude, harsh... but as Galin himself stated to NBC News, “I violated the rules, and the carrier has every right to take action.”
The rules in question were (a) cats weighing over 8kg (about 18 lbs) must be transported in the cargo hold, and (b) once inside the passenger cabin, cats must remain inside their carriers. Galin's cat Viktor weighs at least 10 kg (22 lbs) and, as can be seen in photos Galin snapped and posted to his Facebook account, had a grand time gazing out the window while his owner sipped champagne.
We have to give Galin some credit for the elaborate scheme he concocted to get Viktor into Business Class alongside him. After authorities at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport insisted on weighing Viktor, Galin employed Facebook to find a local cat who looked like Viktor but weighed under Aeroflot's limit... and he succeeded! After the body-double cat was weighed and approved by Aeroflot, the parties returned to the terminal and made a reverse switcheroo.
Galin's scheme was almost foolproof... but like far too many scofflaws these days, he just had to post an illustrated account online. Aeroflot noticed his post and were not amused, stating “In connection with several counts of deliberate violation of the air carriage agreement, Aeroflot has decided to exclude this passenger from the Aeroflot Bonus loyalty program. All miles accumulated during his entire participation in the program will be canceled.”
Galin took the news rather stoically, stating “The law is harsh, but it is the law.” The fact that his clever caper has gone viral in Russia, prompting a flood of internet memes, no doubt soothes the burn. As for Viktor, he's recovered from a bout of air sickness and is expected to accompany Galin as he makes the rounds of Russia's media and talk show circuit.