The Delta Air Lines flight attendants accused of racially profiling a doctor who tried to give medical assistance to a sick passenger this week violated of a company policy put in place nearly two years ago after a similarly racist incident onboard. Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford was flying from Indianapolis to Boston on Tuesday when her seatmate began to convulse, according to CNN. That’s when Stanford, who works at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, jumped to action and began treating the passenger.
After one flight attendant asked if Stanford was a doctor, another came by and asked her to produce her credentials. Stanford obliged by showing her medical license, but that apparently wasn’t good enough when both attendants returned and suggested the documents might not be legitimate.
Delta’s response on Wednesday was impersonal, inadequate and, apparently, incorrect.
The airline that has a history of discriminating against Black passengers somehow failed to mention that Delta put a new policy in place nearly two years ago that its “flight attendants are no longer required to verify medical credentials.” That policy change resulted from Dr. Tamika Cross’ Facebook post detailing her own hostile experience trying to render medical aid to an unresponsive passenger.
“Dr. Cross’ feedback influenced the outcome of a review Delta’s In-Flight Service training team was already conducting of its medical documentation policy, streamlining the process for both flight attendants and customers,” Delta wrote on its website more than two months after the incident. “Effective Dec. 1, Delta flight attendants are no longer required to verify medical credentials. They can now secure a medical professional’s help based on the volunteer’s statement that he or she is a physician, physician assistant, nurse, paramedic or EMT.”
Clearly, the two flight attendants who profiled and accosted Dr. Stanford this week didn’t get that memo.
Dr. Stanford’s experience came on the heels of racially charged confrontations on previous airline’s flights, including just this past September when Delta called police on a Black woman who was simply complaining about the damage to her suitcase. Again, Delta was forced to apologize, but it was unclear if it resulted in any policy changes.
In December of last year, a Black man was kicked off his Delta flight for simply using the restroom. That man, Kima Hamilton, ended up suing Delta for violating his civil rights, saying that wouldn’t have happened to him if he was white.