Mask Exemption SSR Code Clarification (PPEX)
March 23, 2021
As many Flight Attendants return from furloughs, they are adjusting to updated policies and procedures put in place during their leave. The recent announcement about customer mask exemptions and the SSR Code has left some confused and concerned about mask policies.
Passenger mask exemption has been in place since mask requirements became federal law on January 29, 2021, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order requiring the wearing of masks by travelers to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. That same order exempts children under two years of age and persons with disabilities who cannot wear a mask or cannot safely wear a mask, because of a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. As such, United is required by law to allow exemptions as defined by CDC.
In order for there to be compliance with the ADA (American Disability Act) there had to be an opportunity for exemptions to be offered. In conjunction with the CDC, both the federal government and United have worked hard to ensure this exemption is not abused and only made available to those who genuinely qualify. It is important to note that the exemption is approved on an extremely limited basis. Even when a passenger is approved to travel without a mask, they are still required to follow specific procedures to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The recent updated refers only to the Special Service Request (SSR) code, that will now be available to working crew, to quickly and efficiently identify an individual who has received an approved Mask Exemption. In the My Flight app under Flight Details, Flight Attendants can identify any passenger approved to be Personal Protective Equipment Exempt (PPEX).