As much as we want to root for the “little guy” (and his big cat), I am finding it very difficult to get upset over Aeroflot’s decision to penalize a passenger for deliberately breaking the rules then gloating about it online.
In my house, we read about a cat named Mog and a family called Thomas nearly every night (my son loves Judth Kerr’s Mog the Forgetful Cat). Mikhail Galin has a cat named Viktor. Like Mog, he’s a big cat…10kg (22 pounds) to be exact. And like Mog, Viktor does not like to be far from his loved ones.
Galin was flying from Riga to Vladivostok via Moscow on Aeroflot…wtih Viktor. The flight from Riga to Moscow went off without a hitch, but when Viktor was weighed in Moscow, Galin was informed that Viktor was too heavy: the in-cabin weight limit for a cat on Aeroflot is only 8kg.
So enterprising Galin borrowed someone else’s cat, used that slightly slimmer doppelgänger to check-in, then made a clean switcheroo.
The plan worked like a charm and Viktor made it safely to Vladivosok in the business class cbain.
But Glain took a victory lap on Facebook and his post and pictures went viral. When Aerflot discovered they had been conned, they cancelled his frequent flyer account, garnishing 400,000 miles.
Don’t Blame Aeroflot…
Rules are merely points at which deviation is measured from. I am not generally a fan of strict adherence to rules over using rules as a guide or standard. And yet with the Aeroflot incident, as arbitrary as the weight limit may have been, it was clearly spelled out and arguably reasonable.
Galin did well in carefully evading the problem. But did it not occur to him that broadcasting how he took advantage of an airline might not be the best idea?
He was home free. He got away with it. But he blew it by running a public victory lap.
Let that be a lesson to us all.
I totally think Aeroflot overreacted. Furthermore, I don’t think this incident helps to bolster Aeroflot’s image. But you cannot fault Aeroflot for taking steps within its program rules to punish someone who cheated them. It was cheating and if it worked for a cat, who knows what else people might be emboldened to attempt. By making an example out of Galin, Aeroflot will dissuade many would-be copycats.
Thoughts on this? Was Aeroflot right to cancel out Galin’s Aeroflot Bonus account?