Delta apologizes to black doctor, changes policy

A surgeon focused on her work
CREDIT: Getty/Jupiterimages

Delta Air Lines has apologized to Tamika Cross, M.D., a young black female doctor whose offer to help with a medical emergency on an October flight was turned down by a flight attendant who doubted she was a physician. The airline also changed its policy on requesting medical credentials.

Cross made headlines after a flight attendant turned down her offer to help a fellow passenger, assuming she couldn’t be a real physician and asking to see her credentials. When the Houston obstetrician-gynecologist wrote about the incident on Facebook, the post went viral and sparked a social media response with a Twitter hashtag #whatadoctorlookslike.

The airline invited Cross to meet with top officials at its headquarters and offered a personal apology, according to a Delta announcement. Cross’ experience also has triggered changes in Delta policy. As of Dec. 1, flight attendants are no longer required to verify medical credentials before accepting help in a medical emergency.

In a follow-up Facebook post, Cross said she was glad her experience resulted in change. “It is great that this incident was able to produce change and hopefully make other medical professionals, regardless of who they may be, feel comfortable assisting when 30,000 feet in the air,” she wrote.

Delta said Cross’ experience did not reflect its culture and sparked an investigation. “When situations like the one described by Dr. Cross arise, we have a responsibility to our employees and our customers to review the circumstances and our policies for opportunities to listen, learn and improve," Allison Ausband, senior vice president for In-Flight Service, said in the airline’s statement.

The airline said it will also expand its diversity and inclusion training next year to frontline employees, including flight attendants.