A black female doctor who teaches at Harvard was dismissed by two Delta flight attendants, who insinuated that her license was fake.
While tending to an ill passenger onboard a Delta Connection flight from New York LaGuardia to Charlotte, a FA asked Dr. Fatima Cody Sanford for her medical license. She presented it, but shortly afterward the FA returned with a colleague. They proceeded to question the authenticity of the license and asked whether it really belonged to her. Talk about an insult…
You may say these were not “real” Delta flight attendants. Instead, these were Republic Airlines FA. But as airlines continue to contract out regional flights, I find that argument increasingly unconvincing. The FAs wore Delta uniforms, the Embraer ERJ-175 was painted in Delta livery, the flight number was DL5953, and a Delta in-flight magazine was available in every seatback. It’s Delta, just like the Dao incident was United even though it occurred on a United Express flight!
Dr. Sanford shared about her incident on Twitter:
@delta I am very disappointed that your policies on #Diversity have not lead to any change. As a #blackwoman #doctor who showed my #medical license to help a passenger on DL5935 your #flightattendant still did not believe I was a #Physician. @DrSinhaEsq @DrKathyHughes
— Fatima Cody Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, FAAP, FACP (@fstanfordmd) October 31, 2018
Delta quickly responded:
I am so sorry for your frustration Dr. Stanford. Please know that Delta does not condone discrimination for any reason and we take your comments very seriously. We are looking into further and will be reaching out to you directly. HTD
— Delta (@Delta) October 31, 2018
This story is so poignant to me. I flew from San Francisco to Frankfurt earlier this week on United. There was a minor medical emergency onboard and a doctor from business class volunteered to look at the patient. He was not asked for credentials; he was simply led back to the passenger. He also happened to be an older white man.
I don’t think racial animus drove this action on Delta. But assumptions can be so hurtful to people who have worked so hard. Imagine how you would feel if you worked for nearly a decade for a professional degree only to have it questioned. And let’s not kid ourselves: why else would a doctor with credentials be questioned except for the fact that a black women does not fit the traditional doctor stereotype?
This all comes in memory of a similar incident on Delta two years ago. Then, Delta apologized and promised it would not happen again. But here we are again.
Delta must train its FAs, even on its regional subsidiaries, that when we assume…ass/u/me…Dr. Sanford is owed an apology. More than that, Dr. Sanford is owed the same level of respect as any other trained medical professional.
(H/T: View from the Wing)