[Photo courtesy of Airbnb]
Airbnb Safe Travel Info
Airbnb Cancellation for Extenuating Circumstances
This is an independent review from Safe Travel Guide and is not affiliated with Airbnb.
Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances Policy says that Airbnb may provide a refund or waive cancellation penalties if you need to cancel because of an unexpected circumstance that’s out of your control. Covered circumstances are summarized below.
The policy requires you provide documentation to Airbnb if your circumstance is:
- The death or a host, guest, or immediate family member
- Unexpected illness or injury impacting the host, guest, or those traveling
- Government-mandated obligations such as jury duty or military service
- Unforeseen property damage which makes a listing unsafe
- Transportation disruptions with no viable alternatives to reach the destination
- Train, bus, or ferry cancellations with no alternative schedules on the same day
The policy requires special review by Airbnb if your circumstance is:
- Open Homes reservation being cancelled
- Natural disasters, terrorism, or civil unrest which makes it unsafe to travel
- Epidemic disease or illness suddenly affecting a destination (not including existing/ongoing diseases like dengue fever)
- Travel restrictions imposed by governments or law enforcement
- Safety threat advisories
- Essential utility outages (e.g., no running water)
- Changes to travel visa or immigration requirements (e.g., your passport no longer allows you to enter a country)
For COVID-19, Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances Policy allows cancellation of reservations made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and October 15, 2020.
Reservations made after March 14, 2020 are not covered by the policy (unless the guest or host is currently ill with COVID-19). The host’s normal cancellation policy will apply.
Airbnb appears to be offering flexibility to those who made bookings prior to understanding the severity and ongoing nature of COVID-19.
After March 14, 2020, presumably there was enough public awareness about traveling during the pandemic allowing guests to evaluate whether or not they were willing to accept the risk of traveling and staying in a vacation rental.
Airbnb vs. Hotels
Some experts think travelers will prefer Airbnb over a hotel both during and after COVID-19.
Truly private homes — an increasing number of which have self-checkin — are understandably appealing for being contactless.
But Airbnb’s hosts are not employees of the company, which means they aren’t required to follow cleaning and other operational procedures to the extent a hotel company’s employees are.
So the decision to stay at an Airbnb during COVID-19 comes down to trust in the sanitization of the home being rented.
Not surprisingly, this is where Airbnb has been focused. In June, it launched an enhanced cleaning protocol to help its hosts build this trust.
The guidelines train hosts on:
- the difference between cleaning and sanitizing (and the importance of both)
- helping guests protect themselves by stocking the home with hand soap, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies
- making sure guests know about the new cleaning standards.
It’s likely reviews from previous guests will also play a major role in validating the cleaning practices of a particular host.
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