Female doctor offended by dismissive Delta flight attendant during in-flight emergency
HOUSTON – Dr. Tamika Cross, a local OBGYN, was on a Delta Airlines flight when she heard someone sitting two rows in front of her screaming for help.
Speaking with KPRC 2 by phone, Cross recounted what happened on her Delta flight from Detroit to Minneapolis.
"I think this specific case resonated with me differently than the day-to-day things that I may deal with. More so because someone's life was on the line," Cross said.
On her flight, another passenger become unresponsive. The flight crew asked if there was a doctor on board. Cross immediately raised her hand, but said a flight attendant didn't believe her.
"She immediately replied, saying, 'Oh no sweetie, put your hand down. You know, we're looking for physicians, some type of medical personnel. We have one right now, we don't have time to talk to you,'" Cross said.
Cross is a resident physician and UT Health and Science Center. She is African-American. She said when a white, male doctor stepped forward to help, the crew didn't seem to question his qualifications.
"So she said, 'Thank you for your help.' She was very polite. 'But he's a physician and he has his credentials.' So at that point, you know, of course there's a lot of thoughts going through my mind. I'm sitting here in disbelief like wow, OK. And my blood is boiling to say the least," Cross said.
She said when the flight attendant later realized she was in fact a doctor she apologized and offered her free Delta SkyMiles.
"I explained to her, I said, 'No, I won't be coming back,'" Cross said.
Cross said when she tried to file a complaint with Delta she didn't feel she was taken seriously so she posted her account on Facebook. That post has been shared tens of thousands of times.
"I didn't feel like that that was going to be addressed. I thought it was going to get pushed under the rug. I couldn't handle it by talking to a supervisor. That's when I decided to take to social media," she said.
Cross' post has gone viral.
Delta said it condemns all type of discrimination. A statement from the airline reads, "Delta continues to investigate a story surfaced by Dr. Tamika Cross in a recent post on Facebook.
"We are troubled by any accusations of discrimination and take them very seriously. The experience Dr. Cross has described is not reflective of Delta’s culture or of the values our employees live out every day. We are in the process of conducting a full investigation. We’ve reached out to Dr. Cross to speak with her directly, talked with our crew members and we’re reaching out to customers who were on board to gather as much information as we can.
"While there is much we can’t share because our investigation involves confidential personnel matters, we do want to share what we can.
"Three medical professionals identified themselves on the flight in question. Only one was able to produce documentation of medical training and that is the doctor who was asked to assist the customer onboard. In addition, paramedics met the flight to assist the customer further.
"Flight attendants are trained to collect information from medical volunteers offering to assist with an onboard medical emergency. When an individual’s medical identification isn’t available, they’re instructed to ask questions such as where medical training was received or whether an individual has a business card or other documentation and ultimately to use their best judgment.
"Delta's commitment to diversity, inclusion and respect of all of our customers worldwide is rooted deeply in our company’s values and culture. As a global carrier with a diverse workforce, serving a diverse customer base, we are committed to treating all passengers with kindness and respect."