The Playbook For The Modern Man

Airbnb’s ‘Not Our Problem Policy’ Big Problem To Travellers Cancelling Trips

Your Euro vacay might have to wait…

Turquoise waters glisten, palm trees sway, mojitos go undrunk. You? You’re hunched over a laptop, at home in your boxers. Though this isn’t a pretty picture, it’s smart: considering the havoc COVID 19 has wreaked, postponing your trip is sensible. However, financially, depending on when you booked your jaunt, you may take a monetary hit for doing so.

That’s how it seems, anyway, from Airbnb’s recent announcement regarding extenuating circumstances. Though it initially sounds promising (“we are now offering Guests full refunds and Hosts no charge cancellations for reservations booked on or before 14th March with a check-in date of 14th April or earlier”), when you dig into the details, you see a large number of travellers will (as it stands) miss out on this ‘get out of jail free’ card.


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Yes: existing reservations made on or before 14 March 2020 for stays and Airbnb Experiences with a check-in date of 14 April 2020, or earlier, and with at least one night occurring between 14 March 2020, and 14 April 2020, are covered. And yes: those same guests who cancel will receive a full refund, and those affected hosts will be able to cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status.

Airbnb will refund all service fees.”

However, the host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual to reservations made after 14 March 2020, and to existing reservations made on or before 14 March 2020 with check-in dates after 14 April 2020. In other words, if you have an upcoming trip in the back end of April, in May, or any time beyond that, you are – unless we see further changes to Airbnb’s policy – at your host’s mercy as to whether or not you get a refund.


“Existing reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences with a check-in date after 14 April 2020 will not be covered under our extenuating circumstances policy except where the guest or host has contracted COVID-19. The host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual.”

“Please remember to carefully review the listing’s cancellation policy set by the host when booking and consider choosing an option that provides flexibility,” Airbnb adds, as a warning to anyone currently making a booking. They then left some further advice for those looking to recoup some cash, explaining how the whole “extenuating circumstances” gig goes.

Booked after the grace period? Tough luck…

“If your reservation is covered, it will be marked as such on the reservation details page (found in Trips if you’re a traveller, or in your hosting dashboard if you’re a host). If you cancel a reservation marked as eligible, guests will receive a full refund, and there will be no impact to hosts’ Superhost status. You don’t need to contact us in this case,” reads Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances page, last updated on Saturday the 14th of March (at the time of writing).

“For travellers, if your reservation is not covered, your host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual. You can reach out to your host to discuss cancellation and refunds.”

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  • Kristen 霍霆

    Unbelievable. Literally nowhere in the article does it even consider the host who is having cancellation after cancellation at the last minute, and who is the one taking the entire financial loss. What is this writer’s landlord going to tell him when he tells them he has decided not to pay the rent coming up next week; because that is what guests are effectively doing to their hosts by cancelling penalty free. I have had far too many cancellations since CNY, just people deciding against coming, and Airbnb is giving them all the money they agreed to pay me back to them. The entire financial hit for these guests cancelling is borne by me, the host. And this writer is complaining that it isn’t enough?

  • Gabe Reed

    Policies are being updated by the day. You are spreading useless fear. Go panic by yourself.

  • Andrew Donald Winter

    The only thing that I dont like is that even though we communicate with guests and make sure they are still coming is that the guest can still cancel last minute. We live in our airbnb when ita not used and have booked another airbnb but we wont be covered. So to combat this, we actually had guests cancel as expected but if a guest wants to keep their stay we are canceling their current booking and having them rebook to prevent them canceling from a few days before. Of they arent committed then that allows us the opportunity to either stay in the home or have someone else book who will stay. It puts us in a very bad spot where we might be required to stay in our home AND have to pay for another airbnb otherwise. Then again with Coronavirus lurking about, what is normal these days?

  • Mick

    Agreed. For a guest, it’s disposable income that they’re able to spend holidaying, for the host, this is their livelihoods. Airbnb threw hosts under the bus on this and whingers like the author think they’re entitled to more?

  • Gus

    So you want to take money from people for a service that you won’t provide because they are staying home to avoid a pandemic? Glad you’re mucking in to shoulder some of the burden then.
    If one thing comes from this crisis I do hope it’ll be the end to hyper-capitalism and general spivdom associated with setups like turning rental properties into pretend hotels.

  • David A

    I agree with you Kristen. Airbnb should have an insurance police which protects hosts. If hosts rented their property on a contact through standard rental agencies then they would be covered. I, like many Airbnb Hosts depend on my mortgage being paid through rental and with the blanket withdrawal this now exposes me financially. Airbnb should have supported Hosts in the same way it supports Guests.

  • David A

    Well said Mick!


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