How to Cancel Your Airbnb During COVID-19

Emily Wang

If you booked an Airbnb for a trip you’ve had to cancel due to COVID-19, not to worry; you can cancel and get either a refund or a credit to use later. Here’s how:

Kristen, our GM, was happily living in Hawaii with an Airbnb booking, but needed to return home to her family when COVID-19 hit. How do you cancel a long-term Airbnb booking with $6,000 on the line? She did so successfully, and so can you. Keep reading for tips to work with Airbnb in times of abandoned travel plans and financial uncertainty.

Airbnb’s COVID-19 Cancelation Policies

Airbnb has been updating their COVID-19 cancelation policy frequently, so take note of when you canceled your reservation, and make sure you’re familiar with how policies may have changed since then. Airbnb’s cancelation policy currently applies to rentals made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and June 15, 2020. Rentals under this category may be canceled before check-in for travel credit or a full cash refund. The text for the COVID-19 cancellation (as of May 1) is below:

“Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and June 15, 2020, may be canceled before check-in. This means that guests who cancel under the policy will receive, at their option, travel credit or a full cash refund, hosts can cancel under the policy without charge or impact to their Superhost status, and Airbnb will either refund, or issue travel credit in an amount that includes, all service fees. Reservations for stays and Airbnb.”

Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date after June 15, 2020, are not currently covered for COVID-19 related extenuating circumstances. The host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual.

If a reservation has already begun (the check-in has passed) this extenuating circumstance does not apply.

Long-term rentals where check-in was prior to March 14, 2020 may be more difficult to negotiate, as check-in would technically be ineligible for this refund. However, you may be eligible for Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy, which broadly covers for epidemic disease/illness, travel restrictions and safety/security threat advisories.

How to Cancel Your Airbnb Reservation Due to COVID-19

Start by going to your “Trips” page on either the Airbnb website or smartphone application.

Airbnb recommends reaching out to your host directly to cancel your reservation first.

If your host declines the cancelation, you’ll need to contact Airbnb directly—try to contact your host (and then Airbnb) as early as possible, as the waiting queue for cancelations is long. You may be on hold for a long time when you dial the Airbnb calling center (after making it through many automated messages), or it may take weeks to find a resolution for your cancelation. This is Airbnb’s step by step guidance for navigating the process.

Hosts can decide if, and how much, they would like to refund, so you may be able to work with them directly if you are unable to find help from Airbnb’s support team. Asking them directly and politely, you may be able to negotiate a refund for a percentage of your stay.

If you work with Airbnb’s support team directly, make sure to provide as much information as possible. Write down all the information you might need before you reach out, so that you can explain your situation as thoroughly as possible; this includes your booking email, reference number, location, dates and the specific circumstances surrounding your cancellation. Perhaps you frequently make Airbnb reservations, or you’re a Superhost yourself; make sure to communicate these details. If you’ve already contacted your host, details from that conversation may also be helpful.

Make sure that all the support representatives working with your case have a clear understanding of your situation, enough to relay to their supervisor if necessary. Airbnb’s support team is likely handling many frustrated guests at this time, so try to be as kind and patient as possible.

If you’ve successfully petitioned for your refund, it may take up to 10 or even 15 days (depending on your payment method), to receive your reimbursement. Airbnb details a list of when you’ll receive your refund for different payment methods, and your specific payment method might take longer than others.

COVID-19 Relief for Airbnb Hosts

Recently, Airbnb launched a $250 million fund to support hosts who have been impacted by cancelations. The policy offers 25% of the original booking fee to guests who booked on or before March 14 with a check-in date between March 14 and May 31, 2020, and canceled their booking reservation for reasons relating to the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, Airbnb has announced a Superhost Relief Fund to offer grants of up to $5000 to Superhosts who have been seriously impacted by COVID-19. Eligible Superhosts will be emailed invitations to apply by May 15, 2020.

If you do not qualify for either of Airbnb’s relief funds, you might be able to qualify for Airbnb’s Frontline Stays program to house COVID-19 responders. Many COVID-19 healthcare workers need a place to stay near hospitals or away from their families, although only “an entire place without any other guests present” is eligible. For all stays, Airbnb has also published a set of cleaning guidelines for keeping spaces safe during COVID-19.

People love Airbnb for one of the same reasons they love Tortuga: staying in a real home allows travel and life on your own terms. Although many of us book our Airbnb stays well ahead of our trips, much before we understood the scope of COVID-19 risks, life on our terms includes protecting our health and wallet. We will travel again—together—but we will protect ourselves, each other, and our communities first—also together.


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