Some of Airbnb’s rules have always been, for lack of a better word, “fluid.” For example, for the past several years, Airbnb has had ongoing problems with their rented homes becoming “party houses” for Halloween, New Year’s Eve, etc. In an effort to stop that, some of Airbnb’s rules now temporarily change (here’s a good example) during certain holiday seasons, to avoid situations like this.
Another rule that, of course, all hoped would never have to be for “forever” (read: things would get better and it wouldn’t be necessary anymore) was their COVID policy. In 2020, Airbnb began updating updated their cancellation options to allow for circumstances around COVID. From Airbnb:
Reservations made on or before March 14, 2020
If your reservation was made on or before March 14, 2020 and COVID-19 affects your travel plans, you can find out what your current cancellation and refund options are by going to cancel your reservation and choosing My travel plans have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Depending on your circumstances, you may see one or more of the following options:
- A refund according to your Host’s cancellation policy
- A full cash refund after submitting official documentation for review
- An extenuating circumstances travel credit
- Ask your Host for a full refund
Reservations made after March 14, 2020
If your reservation was made after March 14, 2020 and COVID-19 affects your travel plans, your Host’s cancellation policy will apply. However, if you’re sick due to COVID-19, this is covered under our standard Extenuating Circumstances Policy.
If your reservation doesn’t qualify for a full refund, you can always message your Host to find out if they’re willing to give you an additional refund through the Resolution Center.
Airbnb’s policy for extenuating circumstances had been to offer refunds or travel credit to reservations interrupted due to COVID (read: illness, travel bans, lockdowns, etc.). However, in a recent blog post, Airbnb announced that effective May 31, 2022, they will update their Extenuating Circumstances policy to no longer cover COVID-related circumstances as a reason for a refund for bookings made on or after that date (with the exception of domestic reservations in South Korea and mainland China, where certain COVID-19-related circumstances will continue to be covered).
Airbnb had hinted back in January that this policy change was going to be coming down the pike. That’s when they had another blog post outlining the custom-built guest travel insurance product they would begin offering to Airbnb guests in the Spring of 2022.
Of course, COVID is less of a problem than it was in 2020 and 2021, so wanting to remove refunds for hosts or guests having COVID is understandable. Since they’re soon going to offer travel insurance, a paid-for commodity, it also becomes a, “Well, of course, they’re going to get rid of the free option, LOLOL!” situation 😉
“The safety of our community is our priority and we continue to monitor the situation closely,” Airbnb said in a statement.
For those who are still concerned about catching COVID just before planned travel, there will still be some listings that offer “free cancellations,” just as there were before. And, of course, travel insurance that covers COVID is readily available.
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