Airbnb stops offering cash refunds for COVID-19 cancellations as platform cuts costs to survive pandemic

Airbnb is no longer offering full cash refunds for guests who have had to cancel their stay due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, as the short term rental platform takes drastic measures to survive travel slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company had initially offered its customers the choice between a full cash refund and travel credits for any reservation made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and April 14, 2020.

The company later extended the window of the COVID-19 Extenuating Circumstances (EC) policy to May 1, 2020 but will only offer full refunds in the form of travel credits that expire on December 31, 2020.

A communication Airbnb sent to a customer shows that guests can only claim a full cash refund if they can demonstrate an “individual extenuating circumstance” through documentation.

For guest home reservations canceled under the COVID-19 EC policy

If cancellation occurs during service fee and accommodation fee penalty period Your guest will be presented three options:
A. Accept refund based on your cancellation policy as the host.
B. Accept full (100%) amount refund through travel credit. This is a new program which will pay you as the host 25% of what you would normally receive through your cancellation policy for any Homes reservations canceled under the COVID-19 EC policy. (Note that these payouts cannot be issued by agents. It will be automatically processed retroactively.)
C. Pursue a full cash refund based on an individual extenuating circumstance by submitting documentations for their claim.

Angry guests have taken to social media to vent their frustration at Airbnb’s policy change.

“My sister and I are out $1,353 for a stay in Florida for 15 people that is on LOCKDOWN during Covid,” Andrea Krueger tweeted. “Airbnb is giving us a $1,353 CREDIT and no refund for this. The host says we need to work through airbnb and not them. HELP”

The hosts are not too thrilled about Airbnb’s new refund policy either.

“Airbnb is sitting on guest money while not refunding them and yet not paying us,” host Antoinette Fincher complained.

Airbnb has taken drastic measures to costs as booking cancellations due to COVID-19 caused the company’s revenues to dry up.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and co-founders Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk will forego their salaries for the rest of the year and the company will slash the company’s marketing budget of $800 million for the year.