Airbnb will stop offering refunds for COVID-related cancellations

Airbnb guests who must cancel a reservation due to a COVID-19 infection will soon no longer be eligible for a refund under company policy, the vacation rental website announced.

San Francisco-based Airbnb said in a company blog post on Friday that more than two years into the pandemic, it would update its “extenuating circumstances policy” to no longer cover related circumstances. to COVID-19 as a reason for reimbursement.

Airbnb noted that nearly two-thirds of the world’s population have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and many countries have plans in place to coexist with COVID-19.

Because of this “new way of life,” Airbnb said it would end the no-penalty cancellation policy for guests and hosts.

“Some in the travel industry stopped this type of policy months ago, while others provided none at all,” the statement said. “After consulting with our medical advisers, as well as our community, we believe the time is now right to take the same step.”

The change will take effect on May 31 and will cover bookings made on or after that date.

The company added that two-thirds of active listings on Airbnb still offer a “moderate or flexible” cancellation policy – such as allowing guests to cancel at least five days before check-in, or even 24 hours in advance. – for a full refund.

Airbnb said it plans to launch a new travel insurance product for its customers soon. In the meantime, he noted that travelers could consider purchasing travel insurance from an outside provider to cover their stays.

Just months ago, Airbnb came under fire for telling its Superhosts, an elite category for the site’s highest-rated hosts, that they had to resume hosting or lose their status, The Chronicle reported. .

Some Superhosts who had temporarily suspended some of their hosting due to pandemic-related safety concerns were angry at the change, saying the company was forcing their hand and potentially compromising their health.

After the backlash, Airbnb quickly reversed its policy. Despite the pandemic, CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement in February that the company posted the best financial year in its history in 2021.

Annie Vainshtein (her) is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]

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