So: you booked a vacation with Airbnb—and now, thanks to the pandemic, you’re stuck at home. Will you get your money back, and how do you go about finding out?
Airbnb’s updated policy
Airbnb has always had an “extenuating circumstances” clause within their policy—which covers emergencies, serious illness, transportation cancellations, government-mandated obligations, or death. Now, mid-pandemic, Airbnb has updated their policy to reflect its impact on hosts and guests. This new clause applies to reservations that were booked on or before March 14, 2020, for which the check-in date was May 31st or earlier.
This policy also applies to international hosts or guests who booked an Airbnb who must change or cancel travel as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes cancellation of transportation, border closings, or diagnosis of suspicion of infection of COVID-19.
Reserved “Stays” and “Airbnb Experiences” that fall under this criteria will receive a full refund, fees included. Again, these reservations must have been made on or before March 14 for check-in dates between March 14th through May 31, 2020. You will either be offered a travel credit toward future reservations or a full cash refund.
If the reservation was made after March 14, it is covered under the extenuating circumstances policy if you or the host has contracted COVID-19.
Reservations not covered under the COVID-19 policy
If you reserved an Airbnb after March 14 and you’re not sick, you’re not covered under the COVID-19 policy. If your check-in date is after May 31, you are (so far) not covered.
Cancellations for dates not covered will be based on the hosts’ chosen cancellation policy, which could be one of the following.
You get free cancellation up until 14 days before your check-in date. If you booked your stay or experience fewer than 14 days before your check-in date, you are only eligible for a free cancellation 48 hours after you booked and up to 24 hours before check-in. After that, you can get a refund of the nightly rate and cleaning fee, but the service fee will still apply.
You can cancel up until 14 days before check-in. However, if you booked in a shorter timeframe than 14 days prior to your check-in, you’re only allowed 48 hours to get a free cancellation as long as it is up to 5 days before your check-in date.
Under this policy guests are only allowed to cancel 48 hours after booking as long as that falls 14 days before the check-in date. If you cancel up to 7 days before check-in, you’ll receive 50% of the nightly rate with the cleaning fee.
For Airbnb reservations that are long-term or booked more than 30 days or 60 days in advance, look at those cancellation policies here.
Your cancellation and refund options to your specified booking can be found by looking at your “Trips” page located on the site or your Airbnb app.
What Airbnb needs from you
If you’re requesting a refund, you’re going to need one of these:
An official government site screenshot that details travel restrictions (the government can be either in your current location or planned destination)
A signed and dated letter from a medical professional with the name of someone on the reservation and the reason they cannot travel
Proof of your transportation being cancelled
Letter from an employer stating you have to work
If you don’t have the above proof, you can receive a travel credit, but not the full cash refund.
In an interview with USA Today, Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit noted that of the Airbnb reservations that were cancelled in the last month, 86% of the guest’s reservation fees were refunded to them.
How Airbnb refunds affect Airbnb hosts
Unfortunately, when guests are refunded, Airbnb does not bear the expense—the hosts do.
On March 16 the CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, addressed hosts’ concerns by detailing how they would, in turn, be refunded for cancellations.
Airbnb will pay hosts $US250 ($393) million toward the cost of coronavirus-related cancellations for bookings made on or before March 14.
Hosts will receive 25% of what they would have received after a cancellation under the normal policy. A $US10 ($16) million “super hosts” relief fund will offer grants of up to $US5,000 ($7,863) for “hosts who are hurt the most” and need help to pay rent or mortgage.
Airbnb will help facilitate financial contributions from guests who want to support hosts facing a coronavirus-related financial crunch.
U.S. hosts also are eligible for relief under the COVID-19 relief legislation passed by U.S. Congress and signed by the president.