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Airbnb refunds

Lots of threads on refunds from airlines, I have not seen one yet specific to Airbnb, and wanted to share my own experience in the past few days.

Short version: After passing on their initial offer to only refund most of what I had paid in advance for an upcoming stay, after a little prodding, Airbnb eventually acceded to my request for a full cash refund.

More details: I'm not a big user of Airbnb. Not a big fan, either; we prefer to book directly or via booking.com for a variety of reasons well articulated previously by others. Still, when there are no other reasonable options, we will look at Airbnb. That's what we did for a planned family visit to Yosemite National Park in May. With 5 family members coming from overseas, we had a house (kinda sorta) "in" the park booked through Airbnb. Of course, that trip is now off (all of our family members are on the other side of the world and couldn't get here even if they wanted to; our flights to there are canceled, and in fact the park is closed). So none of that is happening.

I received an email yesterday from Airbnb informing me that I was entitled to a full refund if my travel plans had been impacted by the COVID19 pandemic. I went online and followed their instructions to request my full refund. Their app informed me that my full refund would consist of about 80% of what I already paid being refunded back to my credit card, and the remaining 20% would be in the form of a credit to be used on a future trip - in other words, a voucher. There was no expiration date specified. That didn't sound to me like a "full refund". I called, and after holding about 20 minutes, explained our situation, was told to expect a follow-up message from their "extenuating circumstances" team. A few minutes later I received their message. Messages bounced back and forth, again with them offering about an 80% cash refund. I pressed for a full refund (since that's the term they were using). They asked me to document, or simply "affirm" that our trip was impacted by the COVID pandemic. I did. Minutes later they sent a message saying they would refund 100% of what I paid, back to my credit card (not a partial voucher). I thanked them.

So, bottom line: at least in my experience, Airbnb "did the right thing" (IMHO) and did provide a full refund. It did require a little prodding but they were reasonably easy to work with and it left me feeling satisfied.

If you have to cancel an Airbnb reservation, expect them to want to provide a refund in the form of cash plus a partial voucher, but if you push back on that and ask for a full refund, it seems they will (at least in some cases) do that.

Hope that helps someone. Good luck.

Posted by
61 posts

I also was able to secure a 100% refund from AirBnB for our cancelled Paris trip which was to begin May 29, 2020. I waited for them (AirBnB) to change the policy that extended the affected dates to May 31. The host refused to issue refund, said< "It was too early"?
After Norweigian cancelled my flight from LAX to CDG, I sent over the cancellation documents to AirBnB and 8 hours later was given a full refund!
Of course I reached out to AirBnB after my "Super Host" refused to help. My wife is an ICU nurse who takes care of CoVid-19 patients, my host was not concerned although the French government would have been very concerned. I tried to explain I could not quarantine for 14 days for an 8 night trip, I still got no response from the host.
My advice, is to go up the AirBnB food chain, be extremely calm (even though you are probably potentially losing $1000's plus), just explain what is going on, can't travel, can't quarantine, no flight (as in my case) they will be wiling to help.
Hope this helps. But if you reserved after a certain date in March, you have limited options at best.

Posted by
1913 posts

Helpful post for those who use airbnb. Thanks!

Posted by
7582 posts

Thanks for posting your experience. I have 3 Airbnb reservations in September in Austria, Germany and France. All have strict cancellation policies. We are canceling our trip, but I will wait to cancel those reservations in the hopes that Airbnb will extend the date. If they don't I will cancel before the final payment is due and accept our losses. We also had reservations in October for Belgium and the Netherlands with more generous cancellation policies. I have already cancelled them and will receive a full refund. The lesson I've learned is don't reserve places with a strict cancellation policy as you never know what can happen in life.

Posted by
2792 posts

I had 2 AirBnB reservation in France and one in Canada that I cancelled, and I got full refunds for all 3 credited to my credit card w/in a day. But in each case I believe i may have been entitled to a full refund anyway apart from the extenuating circumstances.

Posted by
27 posts

Air B&B finally refunded our money, after a LOT of prodding by me.

We had 3 lodgings booked between 21-28 March. I canceled an hour after the President closed off flights to Europe (11 March). I uploaded supporting documents (DOD Civilian, leave canceled due to COVID), like Air B&B asked.
Then, they held back 1/2 the money due to to the individual properties cancellation policies.

First, Air B&B told me it was because I canceled before their COVID policy kicked in (they said the cancelations had to come after 14 March, I could never find that date mentioned on their web site). Then they had me communicate with the property owners, as they had already been paid by AIr B&B. One graciously refunded my money that day, the other one didn't.

After more phone calls and e-mails, I just rcv'd word that i will be getting that money back.

So my advice is like those posters above; if you've met their criteria, keep after them. The people I spoke to at Air B&B were nice, they seemed as frustrated as me that they couldn't help out at first.

Posted by
7582 posts

I thought Airbnb hosts didn't receive money until 24 hours after check in. Maybe they've changed their policy?

Posted by
2546 posts

Andrea, the hosts do not receive the money until after the guest has arrived. That is still the case. Previously, depending on the cancellation policy of the host, Airbnb would return all or a portion payment to the traveler. Airbnb would keep its fees so the refund amount was never the full amount paid even if the host had a “full refund” cancellation policy. Now, hosts’ cancellation policies do not matter and are overruled by Airbnb’s “extenuating circumstances” policy and Airbnb fees are also refunded. That policy has changed at least once since the pandemic began and it may change again. The significant change was to extend the time that the policy covers. Last time I checked, it covered reservations up to early May. You can see how a host with a strict cancellation policy Is not going to be happy with Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy.

Posted by
7582 posts

JHK, thank you so much for the clarification. I was confused by a previous response from bdokeefe indicating that the host refused to reimburse money already paid.

Posted by
27 posts

Andrea- What happened in our case is that I canceled on the 11th, then uploaded my supporting documents to AirB&B. AirB&B only applied the documents to our first booking, which started on the 21st. We were supposed to check into the second place the 23rd.

Since the supporting documents weren't in that lodgings 'file', Air B&B sent the owners half the money on the 24th. That lodging had the more restrictive cancellation policy, so we only got back half the money at first. The first lodging had a less strict cancellation policy, and received those funds quickly, minus Air B&B's fee.

To compound things, I didn't call about the refund for 2 weeks, because their website said they were super busy (understandable), and to give them time. I can be patient, so I waited. And waited.

When I did call, they refunded the fees as a credit. No biggie, it wasn't a lot of money. It was getting the rest of the money back from the second lodging that was the hassle. Air B&B was having me contact the owners directly as the money had already been paid out. That was when it got frustrating, as I felt like I was playing 'Monkey in the Middle'.

A confusing tale, hope this cleared it up a bit.