“Fat Cat” Swapped Before Weigh-In To Fool Airline So Owner Could Sneak Him Onto Plane

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Now I’m not one to fly with my cats. And 99% of the world’s cat owners probably agree with me. It’s dangerous to them and many airlines don’t allow them to fly in the cabin. In 2018, HuffPost reported that “24 Pets Died Flying With U.S. Carriers Last Year. 18 Were On United.”

So yeah, I’m not risking their lives. But for Mikhail Galin and his 22-pound cat, Viktor, that isn’t anything new. So when he took a work contract that would last 2 years, flying with Viktor wasn’t a concern for him. However, when on a recent layover in Moscow, the airline Aeroflot decided that the cat was too big for the cabin and would have to ride with the luggage.

Unable to sway the airline employees, Mikhail decided the best thing to do was bring in a “body double”.

And then the genius bragged about it online. SMH (*shaking my head* for those of you who don’t know all the abbreviations and slang.)

Their trip began in Riga, Latvia, and Mikhail described all the details of the journey for his Facebook friends. Bear with the translations, and you’ll get the jist. In my opinion, it doesn’t sound all that great for Viktor to begin with. 

Having passed all the inspections at Riga airport, my cat and I sat on a plane in Riga – Moscow. On takeoff and landing, Victor was sick of a pressure drop. [And] I was the whole flight (basically consists of takeoff and landing) closed his ears and cleaned drool that flowed through his hands all over my cat, my hands and carry. The cat did not understand what was going on and looked into the eyes looking for an answer.

On the branch control, a stamp was placed on Victor’s passport that the homeland officially accepted it and we went to register for the flight Moscow – Vladivostok.

It was here in Moscow where the trouble began for the duo.

When they made it to through to the airline check-in, Viktor’s carrier was measured thoroughly and he was weighed for the flight. 

The queue roll sent us to the most responsible employee of the airport, who measured all dimensions of luggage (first time in my 300 + flights). The placed each bag on the scales and reported that the cat will be weighed too.

The control weighing showed that the animal had gone to 10 kg in the salon. After that, the lady officially announced that the cat [must remain] in the luggage.

On all attempts to explain that the cat will not fly 8 hours in luggage and will be in nightmares every night for the rest of her life. She answered that she had rules and [had to] take responsibility for 2 extra kg of Victor in the plane salon, [which she wouldn’t]. 

The number of airline employees involved in my request to solve the issue increased, but the verdict remained the same – cat in luggage.

But Mikhail wouldn’t have it and decided he was above the airlines rules and regulations. 

Further, a strategic decision was made to find a similar cat of a smaller physical mass. Thanks to friends from Riga and Moscow, who actively participated in the search (for which I am infinitely grateful), mini Victor was found at a friends.

Even though 6 pounds extra likely wouldn’t make a difference, the airline had to stick to their policies. And if you don’t agree with them, MAKE ALTERNATIVE TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS! Find another airline that may have different restrictions if you must. But Mikhail decided that deceiving the airline would be the best way to go so he wasn’t inconvenienced further. Because now he faced another issue with the flight costs.

There was a new problem – tickets to Vladivostok for flights of the next day cost 1000-1500 euros. 🙄 After studying a couple of dozen options, the only available ticket for bonus points was found, but a day later in the business class. A little jealous of the cat, without thinking long, took the business.

After spending another night in the capital, we went to the airport with a cat, a cat double and his owners.

The body double cat who weighed in at 15 pounds, cleared the weigh in restrictions. Mikhail and friends then swapped out Viktor and his mini accomplice–which was also caught on surveillance. 

And then Mikhail decided to post a photo of Viktor eyeing a glass of champagne once on the plane. 

What he never could have imagined was that his little Facebook post would garner about 3,000 shares, essentially going viral. So with his ego inflated and a false sense of superiority, he shared his full story on the caper. 

Remember, this man bragged about flying more than 300 times (not with the cat necessarily) and used airline miles for trips. So when the airline was alerted to his post, they took action. This of course was then picked up by the media, and the NYPost.com reported on the story. 

As punishment, the airline pulled Galin from its frequent flyer program and revoked his miles, which some outlets put at nearly 400,000.

Wouldn’t you know it, people lost their minds and turned it into an issue with the airlines policies and “fat cat” shaming. Which yes, the rules may be inappropriate and outdated to the safety of animals. But planes weren’t designed for animal passengers unfortunately. I’ve always thought it would be wonderful to have an airline that JUST catered to flying with animals, but can you imagine?! Yikes.

Regardless, Mikhail lied to the airline, got busted and now seems to be back-peddling after losing his airline miles. 

I’m thrilled that Viktor made it through the journey unscathed, but how many others are going to try to pull stunts like this now?

Mikhail posted a follow up on Facebook explaining what got him to his controversial decision. He touches on the questions and comments raised by others. These include some of the following:

What to do if your neighbor is allergic to cats?

Why do you carry a cat with you if he is sick of flights?

You have created this post for likes and hype on the whole internet.

Feel free to translate and read it if you want to, but he starts his comments with a very important statement. And of course adds a cute kitten pic of Viktor when he didn’t have weight restrictions to deal with.

1. There is no claim to the air carrier and can not be claims. He was doing his work according to established rules. I broke the rules, I and I are wrong in this situation, regardless of motivation. The rules are created to follow them, not to break, and under every rule there is a basis. Point.

So do you think Mikhail did the right thing in body swapping the cat? Let us know what you think–those who’ve flown with their felines welcome to chime in! 


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  1. I think it is wrong to expect to take any PET on a plane period. These are NOT service animals. It isn’t just happening on planes. People take their PETS to grocery stores, hardware stores, etc. I love my four fur babies but they are pets and do not need to go everywhere I go. It is cruel to them and disrespectful of others around you. Too many people are allergic, especially to cats.
    I am glad the airline revoked his miles. To blatantly disregard the rules and then brag about it is just wrong.

  2. Jessicat, in all honestly, I think you’re wrong in saying that 99% of cat owners agree with you. When I was working I traveled to many parts of the world (Germany, Japan, Spain, London,etc) and I always took my cats with me. They have passports and their medical records are up to date.
    I do understand that you and Chris have been blessed with being able to drive whenver you guys need to move, but… what if you need to move to England? You will need to take your 4 cats in the cabin with you! I hightly doubt that you would leave them in the USA.
    On the other hand, there are cats that do enjoy to travel (all my Maine Coons enjoyed traveling). What was wrong from this cat parent was to brag about it on social media! There’s an old saying in Puerto Rico, “never. Tell your right hand what your left hand has done”. There was really no need for him to tell the whole world how he and his cat managed to lie to the airport.

  3. sorry to be rude, but considering what some ppl look like, a cat that’s a few pounds over the limit isn’t going to bring the plane down, and the cargo hold is freezing and oxygen deprived…many pets die in the hold. You go, fella!!

    • I’m going to be honest, I was thinking the same thing. Like, a 15lbs cat plus a plane of average weight passengers isn’t going to affect anything. I honestly understand his concern, and while I don’t think I would’ve ever thought to find a body double for my cat, I would be absolutely moritifed if I had to stick my cat in the cargo hold.

    • I moved across the US years ago. After the first major move with my cat from WA to CA and 12 hours in the car with a totally stressed out cat, I couldn’t put her through a multi day car trip East. I flew with her in the cabin under my seat in a soft sided carrier in accordance with the airlines regulations at the time. When we landed at our destination, my seatmate was surprised to know I had a cat under the seat. I would only fly with a pet if it was the best alternative.

  4. Should have just made the cat an ESA like everyone does with their pet dogs to fly them on airlines. I don’t see how the extra 6 lbs on a cat makes a difference when people are bringing on 75lb pitbulls with no problems or a family of golden retriever (2 dogs and several pups) “ESAs”.

  5. While I think it was stupid in the extreme, I would have also done whatever it took to keep my cat out of the baggage hold which is not safe for animals.

    I’m amazed at how people justify poor treatment from venal businesses, especially airlines. The reason they keep making conditions worse is that people are stupid enough to put up with it and even expect it.

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Written by JessiCAT

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