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Credit: Mikhail Galin / Instagram

Passenger pulls the ol’ switcheroo to get his fat cat onboard flight

MOSCOW — If you can’t beat ‘em, hire a body double and sneak past ‘em.

This was exactly the harebrained plan a Russian man cooked up to get his overweight cat onboard a recent Aeroflight flight from Moscow to Vladivostok.

In a Facebook post, Mikhail Galin outlined how Aeroflot employees told him his cat, Viktor, was too heavy to fly with him in the passenger cabin. At 22 pounds, Viktor just missed Aeroflot’s cap of 18 pounds or less for animals to be allowed in the main cabin.

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Credit: Mikhail Galin / Instagram

Fearing that his cat’s health would be jeopardized in cargo during the eight-hour journey, Galin decided to delay his flight by two days.

During those 48 hours in Moscow, Galin stayed busy by hatching a plan to beat the system. He made a plea to friends on Facebook, asking for help in finding a smaller cat that looked just like Viktor. He eventually found a slimmed-down replica named Phoebe and wasted no time in booking two Business-class seats with his frequent flyer miles on a flight that departed just two days later than his original flight.

At the airport, he checked in with “Viktor” (which was really Phoebe masquerading as Viktor) who was weighed by an Aeroflot agent. The cat passed with flying colours and was allowed to proceed.

But here’s when things take a Mission Impossible-like twist: before boarding the plane, Galin switched out the cat so that it was Viktor who ended up comfortably on his lap in Business Class.

(No word as to what happened to poor Phoebe but here’s hoping she made it back safely home.)

The plan actually worked – that is, until Galin posted photos of him and Viktor onboard on social media, where news of his successful scheme went viral.

When Aeroflot got wind of the plot, it launched an “official investigation”, after which they kicked Galin out of its loyalty program and stripped him of his 370,000 airline miles. This, the airline told CNN, was done in retaliation for “several instances of deliberate violation” of its rules, which included not checking the cat into cargo and taking it out of its carrier while onboard.

Galin, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to be too upset about his punishment, which he first heard about in the media. He told The Post: “I did break their rules. Because of that, their internal program decided to hand down a punishment and I can only agree with it.”

We suppose 370,000 airline miles is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of a beloved pet. Wherever Galin and Viktor are today, we hope they’ll be travelling by rail or by car from now on.