Airbnb Allows Full Refunds For Travellers Affected By The Covid-19 Pandemic
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(Image: BBC News)

Airbnb users who wish to cancel their bookings due to Covid-19 are now entitled to full refunds upon cancellation of their reservations. This comes as the vacation rental company revises its extenuating circumstances policy after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Covid-19 a global pandemic.

The new policy is only eligible for reservations made on or before 14 March 2020, with check-in dates between 14 March to 14 April 2020. Airbnb further clarified that reservations made before 14 March 2020 for check-ins after 14 April 2020 will not be entitled to benefit from the new policy, except for when the guest or host has contracted Covid-19.

To find out if your reservations are covered by this new policy, head on over to your reservation details page (located under “Trips”). Bookings that are covered will be marked as an indication. If you do cancel the reservation, you will automatically receive a full refund from the host, as well as the service fee from Airbnb. There is no need to contact Airbnb to start the refund process. You can expect your refunds to arrive within 10 days, although some payment methods and regions may take longer.

Aside from Airbnb guests, the revised extenuating circumstances policy will also cover hosts if they decide to cancel a covered reservation. They will not be charged, nor will their status as hosts be affected. Airbnb will also refund all service fees to them.

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According to Airbnb, the new policy is extended to all the countries that it is operating in, except for Mainland China. The republic is covered under a separate extenuating circumstance policy released earlier this year. Refunds for Luxe and Luxury Retreats reservations will also be treated differently.

Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances policy is essentially a policy that overrides all the cancellation policies set by hosts, ensuring that they fully refund their guests. Typically, Airbnb allows hosts to decide on their own cancellation policies, choosing from one of the six policies that Airbnb has pre-vetted. These range from flexible to super strict, and will determine the amount or type of refunds that guests can get when they cancel their reservations.

Prior to the revised version drawn up specifically for Covid-19, the original extenuating circumstance policy clarified that Airbnb may be able to offer a refund or waive the cancellation penalties under 12 circumstances. These include epidemic diseases or illnesses, travel restrictions, and safety and security threat advisories.

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