China Coronavirus Farce = Flight Cancelled, No Refund

I live in Shanghai, China and made a booking last year for a place in Manila, Philippines which was fully paid for at the start of January. About ten days ago, in mid-January, 2020 the Coronavirus ‘lock down’ in China occurred. As a result of this, the flight that I booked from Shanghai to Manila was cancelled four hours before departure, meaning it would have been impossible to arrive at the property.

Whilst the host has on the face of it seemed very understanding about this, I have been advised to “cancel at my end” and “don’t worry as I (the host) will refund the money”. This sounds dubious and is a bit concerning if the host actually has access to the payment details I used to book the place. If I trust this so-called advice and proceed to cancel, it states that I am due to be refunded nothing and I know which outcome I think will be more likely to happen.

Airbnb, despite saying they will ‘usually respond within 24 hours’, so far have not. This was my first ever booking with Airbnb and it has not exactly filled me with confidence to ever use it again. If you, like me are also in China at the moment during this Coronavirus paranoia trip and have booked overseas accommodation, it might be a good idea to change it in case the same thing happens to you.

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5 Comments

  1. As a host I was about to explain but April has explained it correctly. You as the guest cancelling will receive no penalty, I as a superhost will. It is a matter of trust indeed but no cancel is no refund.

    regards,

    JB

  2. Why don’t you claim from your travel insurance…you can hardly blame Airbnb for the unexpected Coronavirus!!!!! We had to change holiday destinations last year from Sri Lanka in one week and our insurance company covered the losses that were charged by hotels…..don’t have insurance???? You will next time, it is what you pay for…the unexpected!

    • Agree, Angela. It’s absurd that guests, and Airbnb itself, expect hosts to take the place of insurance underwriters. We are businesses and we cannot afford to take a hit because guests are too cheap to pay for travel insurance.

      Guests – natural disasters and illness happen and they disrupt your travel plans. That’s why we have this product called travel insurance. Buy it before you travel!

  3. I’m sorry to hear of the last minute cancellation of your long planned trip. However, I am a host and I can explain some things that may help you understand the system. Your host cannot cancel your trip without huge penalties levied against them. If they cancel, they will lose Superhost status or the ability to get that status for the next year, and they will be blocked from renting the space to anyone else during the dates of your canceled trip. That is why they said you had to cancel from your end.

    In the past, when my scheduled guest have had to cancel due to serious problems outside of their control (death, travel bans, illness), I have offered them a refund….but I cannot give that refund until they hit cancel. I know there is a matter of trust, but this really is how the system works. If your host said, in writing via Airbnb message or text, that they would refund, you then I imagine they will. I have never promised a refund then withheld it.

    Also, if you have proof of the statement and the host doesn’t follow through, you can send the proof to Airbnb and insist they look into the matter.

    But none of this can happen until you, the guest, cancels. And furthermore, if you don’t cancel, the host has no choice but to leave the rental ready for you during the entire booking, whether you show up or not. It would also mean they have zero reason to give you a refund. Your booking would be holding their Airbnb hostage on their calendar.

    I hope that helps explain why it’s you that has to cancel.

    I’m sorry for what you are going through. I wish you and your family good health and happy days.

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