Black doctor says Delta crew racially profiled her

You may recall back in 2016, a black doctor was prevented from helping a person on a Delta Airlines flight from Detroit to Minneapolis because the flight crew didn’t believe she was a real doctor. She didn’t have her license with her.

Delta said all the right things in the aftermath of the incident and instituted a new policy to prevent future “misunderstandings.”

So the latest incident on a Delta flight is troubling.

Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford was on a flight from Indianapolis to Boston on Tuesday night when a passenger suffered a panic attack. She tried to help.

This time, the doctor, who is black, had a medical license with her.

It still wasn’t good enough, she tells the Boston Globe.

She said she was approached by a female flight attendant, who asked whether she was a doctor, to which Stanford answered “yes,” while pulling out her medical license. The attendant reviewed the license and said, “So, you’re not a head doctor?” Stanford recalled.

Stanford said she told the attendant she had just shown her credentials that clearly said she’s a medical doctor. The attendant then walked to the back of the plane, before a second female flight attendant approached Stanford asking to see her license, Stanford said.

Stanford handed her license to the second attendant, who questioned her again and said, “This is your license?” Stanford said. The attendant then walked away, allowing Stanford to continue comforting the passenger.

Delta changed its policy after the Minneapolis flight. Doctors are no longer required to show their certification before helping another passenger.

“I don’t understand why there was a dialogue there,” Stanford said. “I showed them my license twice, and they still didn’t believe it was mine. None of that was taken into account, and I thought that was quite frustrating.”

“Why would I be sharing someone else’s license? I try to prepare myself so that there are no questions, so we can get past that, and do whatever I can do to help. That was not something that was encouraged in this case, and I felt that was a bit frustrating.”

Delta said it’s investigating.

The doctor said the airline’s response is underwhelming.

  • theoacme

    I could really use some good news today, Bob (like, an efficacious treatment for Meniere’s that has no copay and doesn’t require a mortgage to pay for)…

    …this ain’t it, Bob…I’d rather be Bill Buckner in Game 6 than this…I’d rather eat lutefisk than this…I’d rather be Bill Buckner eating lutefisk…

    • The Resistance

      While the incident is obviously horrible, the positive I find in this is that these incidents now get attention. It wasn’t long ago that the BBQ Beckys and Susan Westwoods of the world were completely anonymous. We’re seeing a lot more sunshine on the issue of individual and institutional racial discrimination.

      20 years ago this story never would have seen the light of day. Today it does, and that’s what will bring about change.

      And that’s the good news that I take out of this story.

  • MrE85

    If something happens on a Delta flight I’m on, I’ll tell them: “I know nothing about medicine, but I am white and male, so please step aside, Missy.”

    • Jack

      Delta could easily resolve the problem by reverting back to when all flight attendants had to be nurses. They could hire doctors as well and problem would be fixed.

    • joetron2030

      I wonder if that would work for me since I’m Asian? Hmm….