Airbnb Cancellation Policy Cost Me $1200

Beware of this Airbnb host. I am sharing my experience so that no one else books a strict policy booking with this host and loses their money. I accepted a lower priced invitation (1200 USD) to sleep in this hosts living room for the month of January. She encouraged me to book and pay immediately since there were other interested parties. I did. Unfortunately, two days later, a family emergency arose and I realized I would have to cancel the stay. I immediately contacted the host so that she could rebook with the other interested parties and reimburse me. This is when I discovered that she had imposed a strict cancellation policy on the booking. I did not even know such a policy existed since, in my experience, normal and fair business practices are flexible bookings. The strict policy means that no matter what, you do not get any money back. Family illness, death, force majeure… it doesn’t matter. The host declined to pay back the 1200 or any part thereof, even though she had ample time to find someone else; I was not due to arrive for a few days. As a landlord, if a tenant’s plans change, I try to reimburse what I can. I would not keep a full month’s rent when there’s the possibility of finding a new tenant. I find that such an extreme position shows a lack of class and character. I have always had positive Airbnb experiences but the fact that they even allow such a policy makes no sense to me. There are hosts offering real private rooms (not living rooms) at similar rates and they offer flexible bookings. Most people are reasonable. Things happen in life. Unless you are prepared to throw away money on services not received I would not risk a strict booking with this host or any other hosts on Airbnb. Flexible bookings are another matter, but make sure you check.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. Why would you hand someone that amount of money without having read their policy? The first thing an immigrant learns when they arrive and live in the States is that everything official must be written in some form of a contract. Can this host still refund the money? Of course but it’s apparent she really wants the money and unfortunately she has her policy to back her up. When I do transaction through Craigslist I never meet the other person at night in a remote place, why would you? unless you want to get robbed or killed. You will almost never lose money or your life if you do things cautiously and smartly.

  2. You cant help a family emergency. you should review their cancellation policy cuz you might qualify to have a full refund if you can give them paperwork.
    It varies from host to host as far as refunds when you cant use that policy. I had one that only refunded me after he filled up the dates I had booked.
    I always go with superhosts because they kepp up on those “ridiculous standards” of things like giving you what they advertise and keeping a clean place. They also usually work with you if you have a problem. I will ONLY book my mom into a superhost listing. If I cant find one for her, I have her set up in a hotel.

  3. This is honestly YOUR fault for not doing your part in reviewing the policies regarding cancellations. Had you booked with a hotel, trust me you likely would not have gotten your money back either. As a host we put in a good amount of work to maintain airbnb’s ridiculous standards, and when you book a reservation, you simply sit on our calendar blocking others from booking. So again, this was your fault not the hosts or airbnb’s.

  4. That is why guests should read the listing. This is not the hosts fault as their cancelation policy is clearly listed and you have no idea if they had the chance to re let the room

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