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British woman returns home from holiday in Abu Dhabi claims airline staff viewed her personal details and contacted her privately via WhatsApp

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A British woman who has just completed a grueling training course to become a trained paramedic claims an Etihad Airways employee looked up her personal details through the airline’s computer system and posted them on WhatsApp. sent her a personal message on .

Hannah Smethurst, 22, from Manchester, was on a luxury holiday in Abu Dhabi after having just qualified as a paramedic and was waiting to board her flight home when she received a call from someone claiming to be an airline employee. “creepy” messages from people.

Hannah, who shared screenshots of her conversations with airline staff, said she believed the man had her details after viewing her passport at Abu Dhabi airport. He was then able to access the airline’s computer database to look up personal information, including her phone number.

When the man tried to “sneak into Hannah’s private message”, Hannah asked him how he got hold of her details, and he seemed to quickly reconsider his behaviour.

After asking Hannah to block his number, he told her, “FYI, your flight is boarding”.

Hannah tweeted: “After seeing my passport, an Etihad staff member found my personal data through the airline database, got my phone number, and gave me Texting, it was a horrible solo travel experience.“

Replying to one of her followers on Twitter, Hannah explained: “Seeing I was a young girl on my own I absolutely decided to take advantage of that and when I landed the Etihad team in Manchester were fantastic! “

After Wednesday’s incident, Hannah publicly contacted Etihad Airways’ Twitter support team but did not hear back.

However, an Etihad Airways spokesperson told CNN in a statement: “Our team has contacted the guest and Etihad Airways has launched a full investigation as soon as it became aware of misconduct by a third-party contractor employee.”

“Following an investigation, the employees involved have been disciplined in accordance with contractor disciplinary procedures. The privacy and safety of our guests is our top priority and we apologize for any distress caused to our guests.”

In 2021, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) introduced comprehensive data protection laws designed to ensure the confidentiality of personal information. The law is designed to protect people inside and outside the UAE.

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Mateusz Mashchinski


Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant for the Middle East’s most famous airline and is on duty for a well-known European airline during the COVID-19 pandemic. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centered stories. Always keeping his eye on the ground, Matt is regularly trusted by some of the biggest names in journalism for his industry insights, analysis and news coverage.



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