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    Understanding our updated extenuating circumstances policy

    Understanding our updated extenuating circumstances policy

    Learn how cancellations work under our policy now.
    By Airbnb on Sep. 23, 2020
    5 min read
    Updated Feb. 15, 2021

    Highlights

    • We’re changing how cancellations work under our extenuating circumstances policy for reservations of stays and Airbnb Experiences with a check-in or start date on or after January 20, 2021

    • The policy still covers natural disasters and similar events that are unforeseeable and outside of anyone’s control

    Note: Our updated extenuating circumstances policy applies to all reservations beginning on or after January 20, 2021.

    Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback from hosts about how cancellations have worked under our extenuating circumstances policy. Many hosts expressed that they didn’t feel our former policy was fair to hosts, so we updated our policy to have a better balance between the needs of hosts and guests.

    The updated policy applies to reservations of stays and Airbnb Experiences with a check-in or start date on or after January 20, 2021.*

    Under the updated policy, guests impacted by unexpected personal circumstances—like jury duty or a canceled flight—will no longer be covered by our extenuating circumstances policy.

    You can read all about the changes we’re making in the Help Center, but we’d like to give you a few examples of situations that will and won’t be covered starting in January.

    What did the former extenuating circumstances policy cover for guests?
    Under our former policy, guests could cancel for a refund in two types of situations:

    • Unexpected personal circumstances
    • Large-scale events like an earthquake or a pandemic

    What does the updated policy cover?
    Effective for reservations of stays and Airbnb Experiences with a check-in or start date on or after January 20, 2021, the updated extenuating circumstances policy still covers natural disasters and similar events that are unforeseeable and outside of anyone’s control.

    If your guests experience a typical travel disruption, like a flight delay, they will no longer be able to cancel under the policy for a refund. They may still be entitled to a refund under your cancellation policy.

    What’s not covered by the updated policy?
    The policy will exclude travel disruptions caused by most personal circumstances.

    As one example, if a guest has canceled flight or has to do jury duty and they need to cancel their reservation at the last minute, Airbnb will no longer consider this an extenuating circumstance and your cancellation policy will apply. 

    The policy will also exclude travel disruptions caused by weather events and endemic diseases that are common enough to be foreseeable. For more info and a list of examples, you can read more at the Help Center

    We know that your relationship with your guests is important, and we want to empower you to decide whether to refund guests impacted by unexpected personal circumstances, foreseeable weather, illness, or other reasons. As always, you’ll have the ability to resolve these situations directly with your guest if you choose to do so—without having to speak with someone on our customer service team.

    Which reservations will be covered by this updated policy?
    The updated policy will apply to reservations of stays and Airbnb Experiences with a check-in or start date on or after January 20, 2021, except Luxe reservations.*

    What if I need to cancel a guest’s reservation?
    We know that hosts occasionally need to cancel a reservation due to unforeseen personal circumstances. If you can’t host because of something that is truly outside your control—like an injury that prevents you from hosting or an emergency with your property—you’ll still be able to cancel without any adverse consequences like having to pay charges or affecting your Superhost status.

    We do ask that you consider each cancellation carefully. As you likely know from your own experience, having your reservation canceled on you can be one of the worst experiences for a traveler—though we understand sometimes it’s unavoidable.

    What if there’s another pandemic?
    First of all, we really hope there’s never another pandemic. But in case we experience another one in our lifetime, we would expect many guests who booked before that pandemic to have the ability to cancel for a refund under the updated extenuating circumstances policy.

    Why are you choosing to exclude unexpected personal circumstances from the updated policy?
    In normal times—not during a pandemic—unexpected personal circumstances make up the vast majority of guest cancellations under our extenuating circumstances policy.

    In order to build the right long-term solution, we focused our attention on these types of cancellations. Starting on January 20, 2021, guests with unexpected personal circumstances will no longer be eligible to cancel for a refund under our extenuating circumstances policy. It will be your decision whether you would like to make an exception to your cancellation policy or not.

    What types of large-scale events won’t be covered by the updated policy?
    For large-scale events, our policy will remain mostly the same. Guests will still be eligible for a refund if, for example, an unforeseeable natural disaster prevents them from traveling. This update means that guests will be held to your cancellation policy more often than with our old policy.

    What kind of insurance will you offer, and how will it be offered to guests?
    We're working toward providing travel insurance options for guests—first in the U.S., and then in other areas around the world. Guests will be able to purchase trip protection through a partnership with a leading insurer.

    In the meantime, we've launched a travel insurance page to educate guests about travel insurance and provide links to travel insurance aggregators, so guests in certain countries and regions can compare quotes and purchase a travel insurance plan that fits their needs. Learn more about how we’re educating guests about travel insurance

    Will the updated policy allow guests to cancel because of COVID-19–related circumstances?
    The changes to the policy won’t affect how we’re handling COVID-19. For reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made after March 14, 2020, cancellations related to COVID-19 will still be excluded—unless you or your guest are sick with COVID-19. Please note that different policies apply for Luxe reservations.

    Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, will remain eligible. Learn more about our extenuating circumstances policy and COVID-19

    How does your updated policy compare with similar policies in the hospitality industry?
    With these changes, we believe that our extenuating circumstances policy will be among the most transparent in the industry—and provide the right balance between the needs of hosts and guests.

    These changes will eliminate refunds for guests in many situations that hosts may have previously experienced, and instead provide an option for guests to consider purchasing travel insurance. The updates don’t take effect for some time, but we wanted to let you know what’s coming.

    Please check out the updated policy on our Help Center, and reach out to us on the Community Center to let us know if you have any questions or feedback. You can also watch our latest Host Update to hear Airbnb’s Global Head of Hosting Catherine Powell discuss the changes to the policy.

    Thank you for hosting on Airbnb, and please continue to share your thoughts with us. Your ideas, messages, and comments are inspiring the work we’re doing, and we have more updates to share in the weeks ahead.

    *This policy doesn’t apply to Luxe reservations, which are subject to a separate Luxe guest refund policy.

    Information contained in this article may have changed since publication.

    Highlights

    • We’re changing how cancellations work under our extenuating circumstances policy for reservations of stays and Airbnb Experiences with a check-in or start date on or after January 20, 2021

    • The policy still covers natural disasters and similar events that are unforeseeable and outside of anyone’s control

    Airbnb
    Sep. 23, 2020
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