In light of the novel coronavirus outbreak and its massive impact on the travel industry, Airbnb has tweaked its reservation policies to help hosts and guests cancel bookings without taking a loss. Until June 1st, Airbnb will waive the standard 3 percent host fee that it collects for hosts who refund more of their would-be guests’ money than the Airbnb cancellation policy requires them to. Airbnb also says it will increase visibility of listings for hosts who take advantage of its new “More Flexible Reservations” tools.
If you’re a guest who needs to cancel a booking (again, through June 1st), you won’t be charged Airbnb’s 14 percent guest service fee for doing so. Guests who aren’t charged the service fee will get a travel coupon worth that amount for future use.
Hosts are still able to determine their own cancellation policies. It’s a good idea to be mindful of that while booking; if you want a flexible booking, look for listings that say “Flexible” in the cancellation policy section.
Another thing to remember: per Airbnb’s help page, you might be eligible for a 100 percent refund via its “extenuating circumstances” claim — regardless of the host’s cancellation policy — if you’re traveling from or to an area that has been “severely impacted” by the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly detailed how Airbnb is waiving the 3 percent host fee. It also erroneously stated that all guests, whether they were charged a guest service fee or not, received a travel coupon. We regret these errors.