AirBnB Addresses the COVID-19 Pandemic Through Policy Changes

Published on March 18, 2020

How is Airbnb supporting its hosts and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you use Airbnb for trips or experiences, changes to its cancellation and company policies could impact you over the next month.

How has Airbnb changed its policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Cancellation Policies

Airbnb offers its hosts six cancellation policies, ranging from very strict to more flexible. However, Airbnb has taken this decision out of the hands of hosts in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Airbnb has implemented what it calls the extenuating circumstances policy. This policy came into effect after the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic on March 11th, 2020.

The new policy stipulates reservations made on or before March 14th for any stays or experiences scheduled on Airbnb that had a check-in date between March 14th and April 14th would be covered and eligible for cancellation prior to check in.

Because hosts agree to a contract with Airbnb that states the extenuating circumstances policy can be implemented at any time, there is not much recourse they can take against Airbnb if they lose business due to these cancellation policy changes. Airbnb has appealed to government leaders to help hosts by offering loans and/or tax relief.

If check-ins have already taken place by March 14th, the reservation won’t qualify under this policy.

Domestic reservations made for mainland China are covered under a second extenuating circumstances that apply specifically to China. The specifies that anyone traveling from mainland China to another destination with reservations made on or before January 28th through April 1st are eligible for a cancellation with a full refund and no service fees. Hosts in the area are allowed to cancel reservations with no impact on SuperHost status, and Airbnb will continue to cover the refund for service fees.

For Luxe guests, Airbnb is offering a wavier for cancellation fees and will credit guests’ accounts with the payments they’ve already made for bookings that were made before March 20.

Super Host Status

Airbnb has changed its policy for SuperHost status. For those hosts that have previously obtained SuperHost status, there are a lot of questions about what will happen because of cancelled reservations.

The SuperHost status is given to the hosts that maintain a cancellation rate of 1% or less and have hosted at least 10 days over the last year, but as cancellations are happening more and more in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb has adjusted its policies.

The company has made it clear that this status will not be impacted by canceling eligible reservations as long as those reservations fall under the extenuating circumstances policy in response to the pandemic. The status will also not be impacted by having a decrease in the number of bookings during this time.

However, the policy adjustments are currently in effect only for the April 2020 assessment.


Airbnb officially paused all experiences starting March 18th and running through April 3rd, although that time frame could be extended based on circumstances. They decision was based on World Health Organization information that all kinds of interactions should be limited in order to protect the community.

Can Airbnb charge someone for cancelling reservations due to Coronavirus travel restrictions?

Normally there could be charges for cancelling reservations. However, the current policy for Coronavirus stipulates that Airbnb will cover the fees for cancelling reservations due to travel restrictions or other health concerns. Those who made reservations can cancel prior to check in without any additional fees.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be in an impacted area in order to qualify for this. As long as the reservation was booked on or before March 14th with a check-in date between March 14th and April 14th, you can still cancel the reservation and receive a full refund.

Some guests are having issues with automated responses and host refunds, but Airbnb has encouraged people to use the help center in these situations. If you are not getting adequate responses to your customer service issue, we may be able to help you get Airbnb to listen. Tell us what’s going on and our team will work with you to get a fair resolution.

How will Airbnb help hosts get through the loss in rentals during the pandemic?

Right now Airbnb is helping hosts to get through their loss by covering service fees if they decide to cancel an existing reservation that falls under the time frame of March 14th through April 14th.

Unfortunately, the thousands of hosts that are losing income from these canceled trips are not being directly supported by any changes in the Airbnb policy. At this time, Airbnb has not published anything on how they will help hosts get through the loss of income for rentals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Host Suggestions

Airbnb’s policy changes during this time have mostly benefited travelers, as opposed to hosts. Many hosts feel as though fee waivers and other financial adjustments Airbnb has provided guests is hurting their business. Hosts may have a claim against Airbnb if they have lost business and have had to cover the cost of cancellation fees.

As Airbnb has made its policy slightly more flexible, it’s also published updates on how hosts can make things more flexible for guests.

  • This includes encouraging hosts to adopt a more flexible cancellation policy for those hosts that currently have a very strict policy in place
  • It also includes opening calendar days for longer stays with discounts as many guests are trying to find places for weeks and months that are closer to home. At present, less than 50% of hosts currently offer a discount for weekly or monthly stays
  • The company is encouraging a review of the cleaning routine and openness about what types of cleaning products are being used
  • They’re also encouraging self check in with a Smart Lock or lock box rather than any in-person meetings
  • Airbnb has encouraged its hosts to offer spaces that are more suitable to children as families are looking into places that are family friendly with schools closing in many areas and this can include things like a comfortable workspace, amenities for children, and fast Wi-Fi

Are you having trouble getting Airbnb to help you? Are they making it difficult for you to claim a refund for your cancelled booking? You can file a claim for free below to get a fair resolution to your dispute.

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