Back in October we wrote about Tamika Cross, a young Black doctor who experienced some trouble on her Delta flight home. Medical help was needed for a man who became unresponsive, but Cross was continuously dismissed and treated as though there was no way she could be a medical professional – even when her credentials, which she did not have on her person, were requested by the flight attendant.
Now, after hearing Cross’ story, Delta changed its company policy and will no longer require credentials before allowing medical professionals to help those in need. Initially, Delta put out a statement saying the flight attendant was following company policy, as Cross didn’t show credentials but another passenger did.
Delta still maintains their attendants followed standard procedure, however their latest statement reads:
In October, Dr. Tamika Cross shared a post on Facebook expressing concerns of discrimination while offering to assist during a medical emergency in flight. The unfortunate encounter she described did not reflect Delta’s culture and sparked a full investigation by the airline.
“At the core of our culture is a commitment to continuous improvement,” said Allison Ausband, Senior Vice President – In-Flight Service. “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. While Dr. Cross and I were able to discuss the situation over the phone, we also invited her to visit Delta so we could discuss her experience face to face and apologize for how that experience made her feel. We are grateful Dr. Cross came as it allowed us the opportunity to share some actions taken since the situation occurred.”
Dr. Cross also had an opportunity to speak with Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian following her visit.
“Although this was an unfortunate encounter, I am pleased with the changes that have been made to Delta’s policies and training as a result,” said Dr. Cross. “It is reassuring to know that Delta has taken this matter very seriously and made the necessary adjustments to help physicians and other medical personnel, no matter who they may be, feel more comfortable offering medical assistance during in-flight emergencies.”
The statement continues, “Dr. Cross’ feedback influenced the outcome of a review Delta’s In-Flight Service training team was already conducting of its medical documentation policy, streamlining the process for both flight attendants and customers. Effective Dec. 1, Delta flight attendants are no longer required to verify medical credentials. They can now secure a medical professional’s help based on the volunteer’s statement that he or she is a physician, physician assistant, nurse, paramedic or EMT.
As part of the review, Delta found that there is no legal or regulatory requirement upon the airline to view medical professional credentials. And, as it becomes more and more common for medical licenses to be verified online, physicians and nurses often do not carry a license with them and some states no longer issue wallet versions.
“Our flight attendants were following standard procedure during this incident and the feedback Dr. Cross provided gave us a chance to make flying better,” said Ausband. “We remain grateful to the medical professionals who are willing to assist us in an emergency at 30,000 feet.”
In addition, as part of Delta’s ongoing diversity and inclusion efforts, the airline launched inclusion training three months ago for Delta leaders. Next year Delta will roll the training out broadly to leaders and will begin rolling it out to frontline employees, with some of the flight attendant groups being the first to participate.
While we are happy to know Delta is making every effort to right this wrong, there have unfortunately been a few more troubling experiences involving minorities on their air crafts since Cross told her story. Read about how a man was kicked off a Delta flight, allegedly after speaking Arabic here.