HOUSTON — A black doctor from Houston says Delta Airlines flight attendants refused to believe she was a certified physician during a mid-flight emergency when a passenger became unresponsive.
Dr. Tamika Cross’ Facebook post has since gone viral, and Delta officials released a statement saying the airline has launched a full investigation into the claim, adding that “discrimination of any kind is never acceptable,” according to KIAH.
“I’m sure many of my fellow young, corporate America working women of color can all understand my frustration when I say I’m sick of being disrespected,” Cross wrote.
Cross, an OBGYN at UT Health in Houston, said she was sitting on Delta flight DL945 when a woman seated two rows in front of her started panicking because her husband was unresponsive.
“I naturally jumped into doctor mode as no one else was getting up,” Cross’ post described. “Unbuckle my seat belt and throw my tray table up and as I’m about to stand up, flight attendant says ‘everyone stay calm, it’s just a night terror, he is alright.'”
According to Cross, it was a matter of minutes before the man was unresponsive again, and the attendants started asking passengers if there were any physicians on board.
“I raised my hand to grab her attention. She said to me ‘Oh, no sweetie put your hand down, we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you,'” Cross continued in the post.
Cross said she tried to tell the attendant she was a physician, but was repeatedly interrupted with condescending remarks. When the crew asked if a physician on board could press their attendant call button, Cross said she went to press it and was bombarded with with questions as the ill passenger laid in his seat still unresponsive.
“She said, ‘Oh wow. You’re an actual physician?’ I reply, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘let me see your credentials. What type of doctor are you? Where do you work? Why were you in Detroit?'”
Cross said she respond, “OBGYN. Work in Houston. In Detroit for a wedding, but believe it or not they do have doctors in Detroit. Now excuse me so I can help the man in need.”
Cross said an older white gentleman approached her and the attendant claiming he was also a doctor.
“[The attendant] says to me, ‘thanks for your help, but he can help us, and he has his credentials,'” Cross said. “Mind you, he hasn’t shown anything to her. Just showed up and fit the ‘description of a doctor.’ I stayed seated. Mind blown. Blood boiling.”
The attendant returned 10 minutes later and asked Cross for her medical expertise and apologized to her several times, Cross said. Cross said she even offered her flight miles, which she refused.
“I don’t want Skymiles in exchange for blatant discrimination. Whether this was race, age, gender discrimination, it’s not right. She will not get away with this,” Cross said.
Delta released this statement about the incident:
“Discrimination of any kind is never acceptable. We’ve been in contact with Dr. Cross and one of our senior leaders is reaching out to assure her that we’re completing a full investigation.”