Aeroflot Confiscated a Passenger’s Miles Because His Cat Was Too Fat

Aeroflot Bonus has confiscated the miles from a member whose cat was discovered to be overweight. The passenger had a Moscow connection enroute between Latvia and Far Eastern Vladivostok. He registered his cat as a pet in cabin, but his cat was too large so he actually showed a different cat at the check-in desk.

  • He showed up with his cat, which was determined to be overweight. So he left the airport and rescheduled to fly the next day.

  • Not wanting to check his cat as cargo, so he sought out “a similar cat of a lower weight” and showed up at the airport with his cat, as well as his cat’s stunt double. He had the lighter cat weigh in at the business class check-in counter. (No one dares, it seems, claim a fake emotional support animal in Russia.)

  • He boarded with his 10 kilogram cat and sent the smaller 7 kilogram cat home with its actual owners.

He posted word of his successful exploits to Facebook, including a photo of the cat with champagne. That triggered an Aeroflot investigation.

The airline uncovered the scheme and confiscated the man’s 400,000 miles.

The probe into the cat swap showed that Galin broke airline rules by switching Viktor for “a similar animal weighing seven kilograms,” which was confirmed on video surveillance footage, Aeroflot 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.”

Credit: Aeroflot

Identity schemes used to be very common with airlines, and indeed directly related to frequent flyer miles. Often that meant having someone fly for you, and crediting the miles to your own account. This continued even after 9/11, where two people would buy tickets and clear security – the one doing the actual flying would refund their ticket and take the boarding pass of the other passenger.

A year ago I wrote about Aeroflot revoking elite status from customers (and journalists) who criticize the Russian flag carrier. Aeroflot has been a long time organ of the government. As Yakov Smirnoff might say, In Putin’s Russia, frequent flyer miles expire you!

Aeroflot ad from 1970

(HT: Jonathan W.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Comrades:
    Please do not interrupt the interchange of ideas between Aeroflot and American!

    Despite whatever extreme Aeroflot creates, AA cannot simply parrot. and dismiss..Nor can AA fuel Russia’s Democratic antagonisms by imitating Russia’s antagonisms.

    How lucky are we that a marriage made in hell is AA and Aeroflot

  2. There is no such concept as “emotional support animal” in Russia, fake or otherwise, so nothing to dare. Apparently the illnesses the ESAs supposedly cure are contained inside Western world boundaries.

  3. Latvians should know better than (1) flying SU and (2) posting about it on Facebook. I must say, though, compared to other European carriers, SU has an outstanding intra-Europe business class product and service. Unfortunately it requires connecting in or travelling to Russia. These days to do that you’d have to pay me.

  4. Felines of size should not face discrimination in or out of Russia sad 🙁
    I might not have flown the airline likely but now never!
    Banning him the from the FF program? And All the miles confiscated a bit of an over reaction IMHO

  5. An exceedingly egregious display of bad judgment by the cat guy. Russians are not exactly known for their sense of humor. Rubbing their noses in the fact that he manipulated them like a Western election was certain to bring trouble back on him.

  6. Well, I appreciate his love for Viktor, he needs to put that cat on diet.

    And why brag online? Thats just immature and dumb.

  7. Add to the list of people who just can’t help themselves about posting to social media things that will prove their undoing. That is a very expensive moment of “hey look at me everybody”! At least as Putin admirers the airline didn’t spike his beverage with something with more permanent consequences.

  8. The real headline (“Aeroflot Confiscated a Passenger’s Miles Following Suspicious Cat Swap”) would have been so much better than the false one (“Aeroflot Confiscated a Passenger’s Miles Because His Cat Was Too Fat”).

  9. Fair call by the airline – Viktor cheated and then went on on bragging about. Gary, I enjoy the blog the spin on the headline is too much! Another one in today’s digest – “Death of CLEAR” – really? If so, perhaps then make the case in the post. I read the post and shrugged it off as another flamboyant headline!

  10. Aeroflot is one of the flagitious company in a world : how 2 kg cat weight difference may disturb a flight ???

  11. Clearly somebody felt good at “teaching him a lesson.” Please, if you ever feel that urge (to teach somebody a lesson), then have a rethink about your existence.

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