Airbnb is extending its extenuating circumstances policy to the US due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The policy ensures guests can cancel an eligible reservation without being charged, and it is currently in effect for bookings in mainland China, Italy, and South Korea. Airbnb says for US customers this applies to rentals booked before March 13th and with a check-in date of April 1st, 2020 or before.
Under normal circumstances, Airbnb guests have to abide by the cancellation policies set up by a host, which in some cases could mean no money back whatsoever or only a partial refund depending on how close to the booking date the cancellation is. This extenuation circumstance policy extension is also in addition to Airbnb’s more flexible reservation terms it introduced earlier this week.
Airbnb is trying to make it less costly to cancel bookings due to COVID-19
“We will continue to assess the situation and will provide further information as matters progress,” the company said in a statement. “We strongly advise all travelers to carefully review and select appropriate cancellation policies according to personal needs and the outlook on COVID-19.”
The policy doesn’t just apply to US guests booking within the US. Airbnb says the “extenuating circumstances policy also applies to reservations of global hosts or guests who must change or cancel travel” due to disease control restrictions by government or health authorities, as a result of flight cancellations from an airline due to COVID-19, and in an event a guest is diagnosed or suspected to be infected with COVID-19.
This should be particularly relevant for European customers with reservations in the US after the Trump administration just banned most travel from Europe for 30 days starting earlier this week. Another affected group is SXSW attendees who, prior to this change, were unable to get refunds for reservations in Austin, Texas during the now-canceled tech, music, and film festival scheduled to begin today.
It’s unclear if Airbnb will be giving refunds to guests who have already canceled reservations due to coronavirus-related event cancellations or travel restrictions. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.