Airbnb is letting guests around the world cancel their reservations for a full refund and no cancellation fees, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt travel plans

Kimberly White/Getty ImagesAirbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky.
  • Airbnb is updating its cancellation policy to allow guests to cancel reservations anywhere in the world for a full refund in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced Saturday.
  • Just a day before, the company had updated its cancellation policy to apply to bookings made in Mainland China, South Korea, Italy and the United States.
  • “First, Airbnb will allow guests around the world to cancel and get their money back. We will not collect fees on these bookings,” Airbnb CEO Brian tweeted. “We don’t want guests to feel like they have to travel because they cannot get their money back.”
  • Airbnb bookings have taken a hit as the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the world, infecting more than 153,000 people.
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Airbnb is updating its cancellation policy to allow guests to cancel reservations anywhere in the world for a full refund in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced Saturday.

“In response to the extraordinary events and global disruption to travel caused by COVID-19, today we are announcing updated coverage under Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances policy,” an Airbnb statement said. “This policy now applies to existing reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with check-in dates between March 14, 2020 and April 14, 2020.”

Under the new policy, guests can claim a full refund without penalty – a policy implemented to avoid putting pressure on guests, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said.

“First, Airbnb will allow guests around the world to cancel and get their money back. We will not collect fees on these bookings,” Chesky tweeted. “We don’t want guests to feel like they have to travel because they cannot get their money back.”

Until recently, the company resisted issuing refunds to its guests, largely leaving the decision up to its hosts. The company’s refunds were only guaranteed to a select list of countries on a list.

Just a day before, the company had updated its cancellation policy to apply to bookings made in the United States as well as Mainland China, South Korea, and Italy. But as the coronavirus pandemic has swept across the world, and infected more than 153,000 people, more countries have gone into lockdown.

In his tweet, Chesky commended the Airbnb hosts have already independently been giving guests refunds, and added that the company would be thinking of ways to support Airbnb hosts whose incomes may take a hit amid the flurry of reservation cancellations.

“Second, our hosts have acted like heroes during this time. The majority of hosts have chosen to give their guests a partial or full refund at their cost,” Chesky said. “Third, we know our hosts depend on money from Airbnb. 50% depend on it to pay their rent/mortgage. We are working on some bold ideas to support hosts, and we will have news very soon.”

Airbnb bookings have already taken a hit as a slew of cancelled events because of the coronavirus pandemic have prompted people to delay or cancel travel plans. Airbnb’s decision to issue refunds could further hit the company’s revenue ahead of its IPO, especially if it also entails refunding its hosts.

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