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Man stripped of frequent flyer status over his cat: 'A deliberate violation'

A Russian man was stripped of his frequent flyer miles after his genius smuggling operation went viral on Facebook. 

Mikhail Galin was traveling from Moscow to Vladivostok, a city on Russia's Pacific coast when he pulled off the maneuver of a lifetime. The package Galin so sneakily transported? His "overweight" cat, Viktor. 

Viktor, who weighs 17.6 pounds, exceeded the limit that Russian airline Aeroflot allows for pets riding in its main cabin. As a result, the company originally told Galin he'd have to let his cat travel in cargo, according to CNN.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post describing the incident.

But Galin refused, instead choosing to miss his original flight while he thought of a way around the rules. He took to Facebook for help, asking his friends to help him find a "mini-Viktor" he could use as a decoy. 

Once Galin found the replacement cat, Phoebe, he returned to the airport for a new flight. This time, he allowed the airline to weigh the smaller animal, planning to replace Viktor after the fact.

"The operation to replace the fat cat Viktor with a miniature cat Phoebe was successful — the scales showed an acceptable norm, and the airline employee kindly issued a boarding pass wishing a happy flight," Galin wrote on Facebook.

Galin switched Phoebe for Viktor before boarding, and he made it through the eight-hour flight without anyone noticing his overweight feline. But Galin couldn't contain his excitement over the scheme.

He later posted about the fake cat plan on Facebook, and the post went viral — so much so that it made its way back to Aeroflot. The company launched an "official investigation," ultimately finding Galin guilty of "several instances of deliberate violation" of its policies. 

Galin was stripped of his air miles with the company and is now excluded from its rewards program, according to CNN. Still, he said he wasn't angry about the punishment. 

"I got a penalty," he told CNN, acknowledging that understands the airline has to follow its rules. "It's normal."