Airbnb ending refunds for guests who get COVID-19

Apr 30, 2022

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

A case of COVID-19 will no longer allow Airbnb guests to get a refund if they have to make a last minute cancellation, starting May 31.

Airbnb announced the changes Friday as part of an update to the home-share site’s extenuating circumstances policy. Under the new rules no refunds will be issued when a member of the traveling party gets sick with the virus.

Airbnb said the changes follow other similar steps in the travel industry, and said this is part of adjusting to a “new way of living” as the virus “becomes part of our world.”

Get the latest points, miles and travel news by signing up for TPG’s free daily newsletter.

“Some in the travel industry stopped this type of policy months ago, while others didn’t provide it at all,” the company said in a statement Friday. “After consultation with our medical advisors, as well as our community, we feel the time is now right to take the same step.”

(Photo courtesy of Airbnb)

While much of the travel industry allowed guests extra flexibility  for changing or canceling reservations during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous companies have moved away from total flexibility in bookings.

Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy during the pandemic included provisions that allowed guests to get a refund if they or a member of their traveling party came down with COVID-19 just before their trip. The rules often required the guest to provide documentation verifying the illness. Likewise, hosts could cancel a stay last minute without having their Superhost status impacted.

Related: What to do if you show up to a wrecked Airbnb

These policies will end with these changes taking effect in late May. Airbnb told TPG the changes would only apply to cases where someone comes down with COVID-19. So, in accordance with the company’s extenuating circumstances policy, you could still get a refund if the pandemic led to your travel to the region being restricted for some reason.

Airbnb noted, though, nearly two thirds of its active listings continue to offer a moderate or flexible cancellation policy.

For instance, take a look at a property I’m considering for my family’s summer vacation starting Aug. 20. I can cancel as late as Aug. 15 and get a complete refund. I could even cancel up until 4:00 p.m. on the day my stay would start and get a significant portion of the cost refunded.

airbnb booking screenshot
(Screenshot courtesy of Airbnb)

Numerous hotel chains have similar policies in place. The rules can differ from property to property, but as long as you don’t pay in advance, you can usuallycancel at no charge up until a day or two prior to booking.

Related: How Airbnb saved the day 

Take a random Marriott Bonvoy property, for example: I picked the JW Marriott in Miami, and plugged in a week-long stay starting Memorial Day weekend. The normal rate if I do not pay in advance comes to more than $3,200 for the week. However, I have flexibility to cancel at no charge up until 11:59 p.m. the night before I check in.

marriott booking screenshot
(Screenshot courtesy of Marriott Bonvoy)

The one caveat is if I choose to pay in advance. I save a few hundred dollars on the booking, but would only have a grace period until the next day to cancel for a full refund.

marriott booking screenshot
(Screenshot courtesy of Marriott Bonvoy)

Bottom line

As travel begins to look more like it did in pre-pandemic times, companies – including Airbnb –  are continuing to move away from some of the flexibility they offered to travelers during the height of COVID-19.

The omicron surge in the winter of 2021-2022 served as the most recent reminder to travelers that flexibility can still come in handy, and plenty of companies continue to offer at least some degree of flexibility.

As you book travel, be sure to closely review both the company’s overarching cancellation policies, and in the case of home rental reservations and hotels, also review the individual property’s policies so you make the right booking choice to ensure flexibility.

Featured photo courtesy of Airbnb.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.