It's no secret that the Coronavirus pandemic has left the world in turmoil. The impact has been felt in every sphere of life. Airbnb has not been immune to the difficulties caused by this pandemic either. As one of the leading players in the tourism and travel industry, with more than 7 million listings around the world and an average of 2 million people staying at an Airbnb at any given night, the company has been severely affected by this pandemic that threatens to play havoc with the industry as a whole.
How Has Covid-19 Impacted The Travel Industry?
Initially, travel to and from affected areas was discouraged by the WHO. By the end of March, almost 100 countries worldwide, including popular tourist destinations like France, Italy, and Spain, instituted complete or partial lockdowns. Within the US, localized lockdowns have been happening. Several states implemented stay at home orders, while others didn't.
These necessary steps, Airbnb has taken for safety, but the effect on tourism has been devastating. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates a decline of international travel by 22% in the first quarter of this year alone. The US travel industry is expected to lose $500 billion this year.
Amid this turmoil, Airbnb remains committed to playing their part to support our community of guests and hosts. Airbnb understands that despite the type of losses faced, the safety of our society is paramount.
For this reason, we're giving you a complete guide on managing your reservations and the best way to get refunds if you want to cancel them for now.
Before the coronavirus hit, Airbnb had guests reserving up to 5% more accommodations than last year. But with uncertainty looming over the horizon these days and many travel destinations being in lockdown, people are now revisiting those reservations, or even canceling them outright.
Airbnb takes payment upfront, so canceling without knowing how to get a refund isn't smart. To figure out what the best way to move forward is, it's smart first to have a general idea of how Airbnb's extenuating circumstances policy works.
Understanding the Process of Reservation Cancellation
As a platform, Airbnb cancellations depend on the host of the rented accommodation. The platform provides some standardized policies that hosts have to choose from. Guests are welcome to review all the available choices before choosing accommodation or experience.
- Flexible Cancellation is fully refundable if done 14 days before checking in. If done after that up to 24 hours before the check-in, guests will get a refund but still have to pay the service fee.
- Airbnb's Moderate Cancellation is fully refundable if done 14 days before checking in. If done after that up to 5 days before the check-in, guests will get a refund but still have to pay the service fee.
- Airbnb's Strict Cancellation is fully refundable only for 48 hours after booking and at least 14 days before checking in. If done after that up to 7 days before check-in, guests will get 50% of the refund, but not if the service fee.
- This is for bookings that are longer than 28 days. Cancellation is fully refundable if done within 48 hours of booking and 28 days before check-in. After that, guests must pay for the first 30 days and get refunded for the remaining days. The service fee is also charged.
As a general rule, guests can get their service fee refunded no more than three times in 12 months.
Does Airbnb Offer Refunds?
The standard cancellation policies at Airbnb are designed to help out guests and hosts equally. However, as these are unprecedented times, some things have to change to help those affected.
Keeping this in mind, Airbnb has launched an extenuating circumstances policy, under which travelers who want to cancel due to Covid-19 are entitled to full refunds. The policy is designed in such a way that it maintains fairness for guests and hosts alike.
Reservations done between specific windows of time can be canceled with full return of money. Beyond that window of time, refunds may not be granted, or they may be partial, depending on the host's chosen policy.
It is also possible that instead of refunding a trip, Airbnb converts the amount of money into travel credit for a future booking. The company hopes that when the pandemic situation clears up, guests will want to revisit their travel plans with Airbnb.
Terms and Conditions of Reservations under the Extenuating Circumstances Policy
- Bookings That Are Fully Covered And Refundable
Currently, bookings that were done before March 14 are eligible for full refunds, with some conditions that apply.
- Bookings are made on or before March 14, 2020, where the check-in date, between March 14 2020 to August 31, 2020: Any cancellation will receive a full refund. Whether it is because of a transport issue due to Covid-19, a lockdown or quarantine starts in the area of travel, or even if travelers just don't feel safe traveling at this time.
- Bookings, done after March 14, 2020: A cancellation will only be refunded if the guest is sick with Covid-19. No other Covid-19 related issue is considered for a full refund, not even travel disruptions or government-mandated lockdowns.
It's important to remember that to qualify for the refund, guests have to provide supporting documentation or proof for the reason they are canceling. This is done to ensure the Covid-19 extenuating circumstances are not misused.
Since many cancellations are due to government-mandated lockdowns and transportation stoppage, it should be easy for guests to supply the required information.
2. Bookings That Are Not Covered And Partially Refundable
In these cases, the amount of money that is refunded depends on the host's chosen policy, whether they have a Flexible, Moderate, or Strict policy. Service fees are also not refunded in these situations.
- Reservations made after March 14, 2020: Unless the cancellation is sickness related to Covid-19, a full refund is not given. Depending on the host's policy, a partial refund may be offered. This is because Airbnb, as a company, is of the view that as the World Health Organization (WHO) had declared Covid-19 a worldwide pandemic by March 11, any bookings done after that would be at the traveler's own risk.
- Reservations where the check-in date is after August 31, 2020: Currently, the company does not offer full refunds for these, even if the booking was made before March 14. Guests are encouraged to check the Airbnb website for updates regarding these dates.
- Reservations where the check-in date has passed: If someone's check-in date has already arrived and they have not yet canceled it, no refund is given to them for not availing their accommodation.
How Long Does It Take For An Airbnb Refund To Come Through?
Before you cancel your reservation, a breakdown of the money you will receive as a refund is given to you. As soon as your reservation status is canceled, your refund amount is sent to you. How soon a refund arrives depends on the method of payment. Most credit cards take 5-15 working days, while PayPal, Google Pay, and Apple Pay have the money to arrive within 24 hours. Due to the ongoing pandemic, some services may be slowed down. Airbnb is working as hard as it can to keep all services running as smoothly as possible.
How Can Your Airbnb Hosts Help You With Your Cancellation?
One of the things that make Airbnb different from normally booking a hotel is the personal touch. Hosts and guests have an open line of communication when the booking is finalized, while the Airbnb platform works as a facilitator. This personal touch is one reason many travelers prefer Airbnb, and it can come in handy in times of a crisis like this current Covid-19 pandemic.
Here's how Airbnb is increasing the sense of community by letting their hosts and guests work out refunding issues between them:
- All hosts have been given the option to forego their payment if a guest cancels.
- Airbnb encourages guests to contact their hosts and discuss the ongoing situation with them. Many hosts are equally affected by the pandemic, and a workable solution can be sought out easily.
- It's possible a host can ask you to postpone your trip with them instead of outright cancellation. Airbnb encourages all the guests to revisit cancellation if there is a chance to postpone their visit instead.
- Hosts cannot refund service fees where applicable.
- Many of our hosts invest a lot of time and effort into keeping their homes in perfect condition for guests, and they have been equally affected by the pandemic. While Airbnb has set out a sum to help them, Airbnb encourages our guests also to cooperate as much as possible to find a solution to benefit both parties.
Other Exclusive Policies
For guests who have chosen Airbnb Luxe experiences or domestic reservations in mainland China, the policies are different.
- Luxury Retreat Policy
Airbnb offers luxury home reservations as well, which fall under Airbnb Luxe. The cancellation policies are different from those for normal Airbnb users.
- Reservations, done before March 20 and arrivals by August 15, 2020: guests are asked to contact the reservation team and find time for postponement.
- Reservations with arrival after August 15, 2020: guests are asked to keep up to date with the official Airbnb website for any information.
2. Domestic Reservations in Mainland China
Cancellation of any reservation will be fully refunded if it meets all the following criteria:
- An official government travel restriction impacts travel to the destination.
- The reservation was made on or before the date the restriction was announced.
- The check-in date is not more than 30 days ahead of the cancellation date.
Airbnb Offers Its Users The Best Support System for Issues!
Users of Airbnb can access the website and use the resolution center, which is a central place to manage issues. Requests for refunds can be made here, and guests and hosts can try to work out a workable solution. If they need outside assistance, Airbnb support can be requested as well.
A member of the team then reviews all the information given by both guests and hosts, and they make the final decision. It's always good to have any information that might be needed, like news reports of lockdowns or travel disruptions, on hand to show to the support team member. This will help the Airbnb support team to make a fair and balanced decision.