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Airport Smuggler Used a Body Double for a Cat

And it worked, until cat owner bragged on social media
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2019 12:57 PM CST
This is not Viktor, or even Viktor's body double. It's a file photo of a different traveling cat.   (AP Photo/Tali Arbel)

(Newser) – A Russian cat owner is out hundreds of thousands of air miles—the price for smuggling his fat feline aboard a flight in an elaborate scheme using a body double. Mikhail Galin might have gotten away with the ruse had he not bragged about it after the fact on Facebook, reports the BBC. The trouble began after Galin flew in to Moscow from Latvia on an Aeroflot jet with his cat, Viktor. They were then supposed to fly on to Vladivostok, but the airline informed Galin that 22-pound Viktor was over the weight limit for pets in the cabin, per NBC News. Instead of making his cat spend eight hours in the luggage hold, Galin surrendered his ticket and turned to Facebook, where he found the owners of a slimmer cat willing to help. They came to the airport and allowed Galin to use their cat for check-in.

After check-in, Galin and the second cat's owners were able to re-swap cats, and Galin and Viktor flew to Vladivostok. It was only after Galin described his "operation to replace the fat cat Viktor" in a Nov. 6 Facebook post that Aeroflot found CCTV footage showing the 34-year-old swapping his cat for the lookalike. The airline booted him from its frequent flyer program and erased all 370,000 of his air miles. "I violated the rules, and the carrier has every right to take action," Galin tells NBC, though he suggests airline officials contributed to the outcome by not weighing Viktor on the first fight from Latvia. Galin has the support of local politician Vladimir Burmatov, who asked Aeroflot "to return the nullified miles to the owner of the fat cat" and allow travelers to pay excess weight fees to keep pets in the cabin. (Read more airline stories.)

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