Airbnb Punishes COVID-19’s Most Vulnerable


My mum booked the whole family a weekend away for May and paid half of the cost of the accommodation up front. On March 16, the UK Government announced that all over 70s and anyone with an underlying health condition should self-isolate due to COVID-19. This was quickly followed by a further announcement on March 20 for a full lockdown of the country.

As three of our party are considered part of the vulnerable group (my mum included), we decided to cancel our booking. We made it clear that this was a COVID-19 cancellation and the host stated that he understood our position. My mum received a notification on her account stating that she would receive a refund of £240. All good – we were happy because this is all we had paid so far so would be getting a full refund.

After we didn’t receive the funds my mum got in contact with Airbnb. It turned out that this £240 was a refund of the whole cost of accommodation and not what we had paid so far, in short, we would get nothing back. Of course we questioned this as we believed we qualified for a COVID-19 refund but apparently we cancelled ‘too early’ despite our reacting to government guidelines.

What’s worse is we could have applied for a refund under the Extenuating Circumstances policy but because our position wasn’t made clear for sometime, the 14-day appeal period had long since expired. Airbnb told us we would need to rely on our host to give us a refund, which he, of course, refused. Turns out he’s not so understanding after all.

We made this cancellation in good faith that we were covered under the COVID-19 policy (our date is included in it now) but because of the miscommunication and not only confusing but ever changing policies we are to lose our money. An example of Airbnb penalising those who fall in the vulnerable category but outside their policies. Shady to say the least.

Our host has now ghosted us as we tried to appeal to his better nature. Obviously we will be getting my friends and family on TripAdvisor to give him the review he deserves.

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


  1. This happened to me and I’m so angry! My trip was June 6-9, I canceled April 18th because of Covid and travel. At the time, their extenuating circumstances policy covered only until May 31. As of May 1st they extended this date until June 15th but because I canceled 10 days before the extension I am not eligible for a refund for 50% of my reservation cost ($172.23). Had I waited until May 1st to cancel, I would have received a full refund. I’m getting penalized because I was proactive and canceling early. I spoke to a supervisor and they said there was nothing they could do, basically I could try and sue if I wanted.

  2. Clearly you have this all wrong. There are so many articles in the paper and online about how Airbnb changed its extenuating circumstances policy and overrode all host cancellation policies in order to give 100% refunds, to the point where there are now class action lawsuits being put together against Airbnb by hosts who say the change was illegal. Get a grip! Your story is patently FALSE.

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