MGH Doctor Says She was Racially Profiled on a Delta Flight

Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford says she is "still underwhelmed" with the airline's response.

Mass General photo by Samantha Carey

A doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital says she is still disappointed with Delta after the airline apologized for questioning her credentials when she tried to help a fellow passenger.

Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, who is black, has been criticizing the airliner online and in media reports, alleging that flight attendants racially profiled her during a trip on Tuesday night.

Stanford has said she was trying to calm a passenger who was in the midst of a panic attack, but she was pestered by the crew on the plane, which remained suspicious of her even after she showed them her ID. “I showed them my license twice, and they still didn’t believe it was mine,” she tells the Boston Globe, adding that she believes the inquiry was “100 percent” racially motivated. Delta emailed her to apologize and assure her an investigation is underway, she says.

Her story came to light in a tweet Wednesday that has been shared and commented upon widely:

“Still underwhelmed with @Delta response,” she tweeted Wednesday night.

In a statement, Delta says it is reviewing the incident:

We thank Dr. Stanford for her medical assistance and are sorry for any misunderstanding that may have occurred during her exchange with the in-flight crew. According to the flight crew’s account, they initially misread the credentials offered by the doctor and went to reconfirm her specific medical discipline. We are following up with the crew to insure proper policy is followed.

Delta’s policy since 2016 has been to not ask people to prove they are licensed doctors before helping patients in need aboard flights. That came after a similar incident in which a doctor, also a black woman, offered to help a man who had become unresponsive, but was told by flight attendants they were “looking for actual physician.”