Reaction: Airbnb Changes Cancellation Policy—COVID-19

airbnb updated cancellation policy

By Rowan Clifford

Author of Airbn’b’Smart and Hospitable user

The world is all but grinding to a halt.

Borders are closing, Airlines are grounding flights, and the travel industry is getting hit HARD!

All of this—in the immediate future, at least—doesn’t bode well for Airbnb hosts whatsoever.  

What’s more, in response to the pandemic, Airbnb has just issued a new cancellation policy, which it has enacted due to the extenuating circumstances we’re currently experiencing.  

covid 19 panic

The new policy came into effect on March 14th, and there’s a few things you definitely need to be aware of.

I’ll do my best in this article to explain in simple terms what the new policy means, and how it might affect you.

New policy summary

Reservations made before 14th March 2020—with a check-in date between March 14th and April 14th may be canceled by guests or hosts without recourse.  

Guests will receive a full refund, and hosts can cancel any bookings without any charges or impact to their Superhost status.

Here’s an example of a cancelation I just received personally:

cancelled reservation on airbnb

How will the new changes affect cancelation payouts?

For any bookings between March 14th and April 14th, 2020, should a guest cancel last-minute, none of the stipulations in your Airbnb Cancelation Policy will take effect regardless of your previous cancelation policy settings:

  • Flexible
  • Moderate
  • Strict, etc.

So what does that all mean?

Ok, so let’s use the Moderate cancellation policy as an example.

moderate cancellation policy

Usually, in normal circumstances, you would be entitled to a 50% payout of the booking total for any cancelations within five days prior to the check-in date.

However, up until the 14th of April, that security is gone!

Your guests are entitled to cancel at any point—for any booking within these dates—without incurring any financial losses.

Cancel without Super Host penalties

On the flip-side, however, up until the 14th of April, you will be able to cancel any reservations up until that point, without incurring any penalties or loss of Superhost status.

This extra measure gives hosts the power/freedom to cancel any bookings for any guests who may be at higher risks of carrying the Covid-19 virus, for example, travelers from Italy, Wuhan China, etc.

This was a legitimate concern for many hosts we surveyed not wanting to expose themselves to potentially higher risk travellers, so it’s good to see that Airbnb has taken this host concern onboard and acted accordingly.

What happens after 14th April?

As things currently stand, all bookings after the 14th of April will not be impacted by this new policy, and it’s back to business as usual.

Or at least as usual as one could expect in such crazy times.

Except that is, in the unfortunate case that your guest contracts the coronavirus (COVID-19), that is.  

In this circumstance, Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances cancellation policy will once again take effect, and your guest can cancel last-minute without any financial liability.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best

What will happen in the next few months is unknown, and this cancellation policy change may well extend further into the coming months.

Nobody knows what to expect, or what we have in store, but it’s always worth planning for worst-case scenarios.

With foreign travel all but coming to a standstill, there may well be a silver lining at the end of all of this with a big increase in domestic travel.  

Who knows…

This might just be a pipe-dream, but hey, we all need a little optimism in these unprecedented times, right?


It would appear at first glance that these new changes will likely have a negative short-term effect on hosts.  As guests are able to cancel without recourse over the next month the purse strings will be tightening once again.

The financial impact of this pandemic is far-reaching, and it appears that no industry or sector is immune.

With a little luck, this craziness will be a distant memory soon, but until then, stay safe out there, everyone.

I hope this article has helped to shed a little bit of light on the recent changes and their potential impact.

Peace out.


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