Last Minute Cancellation

Nearly two months ago, my fiancee and I booked a beautiful apartment for a two-week stay in San Francisco. We spent a lot of time looking through listings, and found one that we thought was perfect. The host was well-reviewed, and there were many positive comments. We paid the full amount and thought we were on our way.

Fast forward to the night before we were to arrive. After several days of attempting to contact the host, she abruptly canceled our reservation with no warning and no explanation. We had only a few hours to find somewhere to stay.

Airbnb told us we’d be eligible for a mere $100 credit. We were able to find another apartment at the last minute, but it wasn’t nearly as nice as the one we booked originally.

I have had nothing but great experiences with AirBnB in the past. In fact, we are in a beautiful rented house for our second week here in the Bay Area, but have had to now pay the cost of moving to a second property (a second AirBnB fee and a second cleaning fee).

We also learned that you can’t leave negative feedback on AirBnB unless you stay at a property, so there is no other way for us to warn people about this on their site.

I believe that AirBnB is providing a great service, but this is an issue they need to address. They are very strict about renter cancelations, but to my knowledge, no penalty befell our host for canceling less than 24 hours in advance, besides a warning.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , .


  1. Never select INSTANT BOOK….. This option automatically debit your card and when the host cancel on you! You have nowhere to stay and Airbnb has your money! ….. That’s a very bad situation! ….. How can Airbnb take my money instantly and then the host cancel and leave me with nothing!……
    Airbnb is basically pirates!

  2. Always stay with a superhost, or in an Airbnb Plus listing if it matters to you that you can be cancelled. Use the filters to find the best property from those two types.

  3. We have suffered from an Airbnb cancellation 2 day before an international arrival. The booking had been made 5 months in advance. Airbnb made a feeble attempt to find an alternative but their options were completely different from the type and location of our original property
    They eventually refunded our money but we were still several hundred out of pocket as last-minute bookings simple cost more than those made far in advance
    We requested the Airbnb cover our losses for the breach of contract. They cited this host penalty nonsense. Any penalty, by the way, goes in Airbnb’s pocket, not to the guest who suffered the loss. As for blocking the dates, this, again, does not help the out-of-pocket guest and it is easily circumvented by dealing with an Airbnb competitor or taking a direct booking
    In our case, Airbnb accepted the host’s excuse but would not share it with us; request for proof were denied. With a little detective work(asking neighbours, checking the local obits), I discovered that the excuse (death in the family) was bogus and that, despite a claim that there were pulling the property from Airbnb ‘for emotional reasons’, they were accepting guests a few days later
    Airbnb is very reluctant to communicate, hiding email addresses, postal addresses, etc. So, I decided to make a claim in a UK Small Claims Court. When I asked Airbnb where I should post the papers they told me San Francisco, where, of course, UK courts have no jurisdiction. Eventually they said I could send it to Dublin, but the same problem applies. They have not replied to me since
    What a shady outfit. They have clearly grown more arrogant with their size. We shall see if there is any justice left for David, or does Goliath triumph

  4. As if the host cancelling isn’t bad enough, if you try to get a refund into a different bank account it is almost impossible ! The booking was made 6 months before the cancellation, and I had changed banks in the mean time. Now Airbnb are making it almost impossible to get the money refunded to a different account.
    Although I have had many wonderful stays through Airbnb I will never use them again

  5. Host just canceled on me with 2 weeks left before our trip (Los Angeles to Paris). I got a 10% credit towards booking a new AirBNB. If you don’t use it, you lose it the 10% credit. Talked with the customer service guy and they really only stick to policy. My choice now is to either book another AirBNB or go to VRBO. I think I’m going to VRBO. AirBNB will forever lose my business.

  6. Let me at to the misery heap. We reserved a house in Flagstaff Arizona about two months before our trip,. It was to be a reunion of old friends who came in from across the country.

    At 630 pm the day before ur arrival air bnb sent us a messay through email saying that our host had cancelled due to a double booking. Since we were traveling the night before I did not get the message til the morning we were to check in. HERE IS WHAT air bnb wrote

    Hi there. My name is xxxxxx and I’m a Trip Specialist here at Airbnb. I hope this message finds you well!

    I’m reaching out to you because your host, xxxxxx for reservation xxxxxxxxx has canceled due to an accidental double booking.

    I know how frustrating this must be, and I am sincerely sorry for the inconvenience. I want to assure you I am here to help.

    You have been sent a automated re-booking email. If you would like to re-book, go ahead and click on find a new listing. Your funds from this reservation will be transferred to your new one. If you would rather have your full refund, you may request that in the same email as well.

    To better assist you, I have sent you a listing in the same area, for the same dates. If you need further assistance, please let me know.

    Of course the only listing they had in Flagstaff was not available, so I had to scramble to get three hotel rooms at a creepy roadside motel for almost the exact same amount

    I had series of cams with air bnb where they did not take responsibility and blamed the host. When I finally got the host to cask me back he said it was airbnbs fault.

    Airbnb did offer a refund and a $200 credit but I doubt I will every use it. My complaint with them was that even though the dollar amount for the house and our hotels was about the same, the value was quite different. We were going with the When that we would be in a comfortable house, but instead were forced to settle for a flea bag motel.

    The bottom line is that the service is great if everyone does what they are supposed to do but if the host cancels you as the guest are out of luck and there is no mechanism for true accountability.

    I cannot say how common our experience is but be warned, if it happened to us it could happen to you. I don’t I will ever use Airbnb again since I just cannot trust them.

  7. This exact thing happened to me except the same night of our booking! We showed up to the Bay Area without a place to stay with our two dogs because the host double-booked us TWICE in the same night.We walked in on other guests with our keys twice in a row. We ended up having to book a hotel for double the price .The host ended up “cancelling” the reservation AFTER our checkout date so that I would not be able to review her and AirBnB keeps giving me the runaround.

  8. Hello , I suffered a similar fate for my apartment booking done in Dubai through Airbnb.
    The host cancelled the booking after four months. Infact I was lucky to have called him a few days before the travel date and he refused to accept the booking done through Airbnb while Airbnb was still showing a confirmed booking. He cancelled the booking after the telephonic talk and I received the automated mail from Airbnb to look for an alternate booking. Airbnb did not compensate in any way and I had to do my own bookings. While the original booking was USD890 , the new booking costed USD1900.

    Travellers have effectively no insurance from Airbnb if the host cancels the booking even when I had paid full amount 5 months in advance.
    I will never recommend Airbnb to anyone unless you want to risk your travel

  9. I know I have friends that love it, but I doubt I will ever use AirBNB again. There has been nothing pleasant or professional about my experience.
    Read the details below and use at your own risk.

    The details:
    Made a reservation for Mardi Gras 6 months out -and contacted the host to make sure there would not be issues.

    Host cancelled the reservation after 4 months because he rented it out long term.

    Called customer service, sorry sorry sorry, blah blah blah.
    Received a $100 credit

    Attempt to re-book at another property, using the SAME CC
    Now I have to “re-verify” my CC – followed their process immediately.

    Waited 24 hours and they have not completed the verification on their end.
    The reservation does not show on my account.
    If I call in for status I get:
    “Its a new process”
    “I don’t know how long it will take”
    “They’re a small department”

    Now the listing has now been snagged by someone else.
    To top it off I cant even book any other listing since they STILL have not verified my card / account.

    It now been 3 days and there is still no response to the CC verification.

  10. I fully understand your frustration. I spend days and hours looking for a property that would suit my needs. I was travelling from Australia, which is not across the road it is a huge trip and booked through airbnb as I believed it had the same rules as hotels.

    I paid in full at the time (as well as paying extra fees through my credit card) just to be told 12 days before my flight that my host cancelled. This is a joke. So… they will not be qualifying to be a “superhost” big deal.

    I am very disappointed.

    They are offering extra credit of $151 obviously with a condition that I rebook through airbnb.

    A complete joke. I don’t think I can trust airbnb any more. There is no guarantee so what is the point.

    i had a good experience here in Australia but it was close to home, so if it happened here I could easily rely on other places and not be stressed.

  11. This is truly an epidemic and airbnb refuses to change anything.

    Exact same thing happened to us. Months of planning, 5 of us booked a place in Russian River which is about 2 hours from San Francisco. 18 hours before the trip, the host abruptly cancelled. I did some research and found the same property listed on multiple sites like russian river rentals and vrbo.

    Airbnb offered the usual answer. This is so scary and the stress to all of us has been so incredible – it has ruined our weekend. Never again will I trust Airbnb

    If you cross a red light and were fined $50, there would be accidents everywhere. Same deal. Make last-minute cancellations a BIG fine. The penalty today is a joke and doesn’t even come close to the pain it causes guests.

  12. Nov 10-13 · 3 Bdr 2 Bath University Dist. Home

    On Airbnb since 2015

    My wife booked this house in Eugene OR almost 2 months ago, for a weekend college tour for my sons, and football game. Clearly the host later realized she could rent it for more than her “regular” rate, and now leaves us yesterday, scrambling to find anything decent, all at much higher prices. This appears to a regular part of the Air BNB “experience”. The Sharing Economy of flakes, losers, and scum like ABNB who do nothing about it–they still collect their money. I plan to stop by and pay a little visit to the owner to inspect her “French Drain”… (I put one around my entire house–it took 3 days…not a big deal. calling bullshit on your “excuse”, Tiffany)

    Hello Kathy, Unfortunately, I must cancel your reservation for November 10 – 13. My house was originally built in 1941, and I had it restored. As part of the renovation, the contractors laid a new foundation in one of the bedrooms. Unfortunately, I’ve just learned that the new foundation is actually sinking, and I only have until mid-November to take care of this problem, per my contract with the contractors. The contractors now need to put in a French drain to address the water seepage happening below. I thank you for your interest, and I hope that you’re able to find another listing to help meet your travel needs. Again, my sincere apologies. -Tiffany

  13. I am a new user to airbnb. This is the first time I use it and it will definitely be the last time. I booked one of the room and I have to cancel it due to change in schedule. The cancellation is well within the cancellation policy. The policy indicate that I will get a full refund. And after I submit the cancellation request, it shows to me that the cancellation was successful. Only after a few days did I realised that the I did not get the refund and the host did not receive the cancellation request. How can they make such mistake. If the cancellation cannot be done I would have stayed in the room and change my schedule. This is rediculous. This cost me s$270.

  14. Hi Guests. I was very interested to read guests views of cancellations – i recently had to cancel a reservation with one month notice, i felt horrible. I contactedmy guest first and once they found another place. They said it was ok to cancel. Once i cancelled there was an automatic announcement saying i cancelked 29 days prior. I know it can be a drag to cancel but we may have to. The dates are blocked so dont worry about the host getting a better offer unless they use another booking service. I am sorry to hear these stories. Our experience as hosts has been wonderful so far.

  15. Hi Nellie, did you get the full refund including the service fee charge. I am thinking about using Airbnb for my upcoming trip in December. I am worry about the host cancelling.


  16. Yet another cancellation story but also a warning to do things in the right order. I booked a “Great 3 bed apt in Soho/Nolita” in New York run by a lady called ‘Clodagh’. A month after the booking was accepted I received a message from her saying she had to cancel the booking. But Airbnb still showed the listing as valid. Only after I sent her a message telling her to handle the cancellation properly from her end did I receive an email from Airbnb. It offered me a refund or to use the money I’d paid, plus a 10% credit, on another property. I’d already booked another apartment, with great difficulty as it was getting close to the dates, so I chose the refund. I believe she sent me the cancellation message expecting that I would then request a refund and the cancellation would then have been instigated by me and I’d have probably lost my money under the VERY STRICT cancellation policy imposed on guests ONLY. If you receive a cancellation message directly from a host, wait until you receive a message from Airbnb before you do anything. I’m not going to use Airbnb again until they offer some kind of security of booking or sufficient compensation to cover hotels for the cancelled period. AIRBNB IS NOT A RELIABLE WAY OF TRAVELLING AND CERTAINLY NOT FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL!!!

  17. Similar experience with Michael’s “Quiet Lakefront Condo Getaway” in Kirkland, Washington – except he just completely stopped responding – didn’t even bother to cancel, so there’s no way anyone would know what happened. We arrived in Seattle nervous but sure it would work out, but nope. Spent hours on the phone with Airbnb trying to sort it out. They contacted Michael who apparently responded, and whatever he told them – which they wouldn’t repeat to us – caused them to offer only a refund of a PORTION of our fully-paid reservation. I about lost my mind. He later emailed me saying “Sorry it didn’t work out.” Period. That was it! I felt like I was in some alternate universe. This was almost two years ago and it still causes my blood to boil. Airbnb’s process for handling this stuff is AWFUL. Worse: nonexistent.

  18. I totally agree that I can no longer trust Air bnb when our long term booking at Cindy’s San Francisco Air bnb was cancelled days before we arrived. Air bnb & the host did not tell us. Luckily I checked online a few days before and saw a cancellation note. It was a peak week in SF for sporting events and we were left to find a hotel with few vacancies left and at very high prices. No doubt Cindy re-sold the week’s accommodation for even more than the high price we had already paid. Air bnb refunded the total amount, but that doesn’t compensate for the $650 extra we had to pay for the week. It is hard to trust Air bnb after this.

  19. Happened to us as well. We booked a month ahead. Fast forward to the day we’re about to check in. Our worse experience became worst as my mom cannot walk and we’re expecting that we can check-in on time, but they let us wait for 3 hours. The caretaker told us to wait for a few hours more because they havent cleaned the unit yet. After hours and hours of waiting for them to clean the unit, they suddenly canceled! And Airbnb does nothing about it.

    The host has a lot of positive reviews before this happened. After this happened, I see consecutive cancelations in the host’s profile.

    The Airbnb host is Kentaro Hattori

  20. Hi ,
    I am in between of the either calling air bnb complaint centre at Singapore or just wait till my tenure of stay is over.
    The hosts had posted no smoking and no alcohol but in reality I just saw her husband smoking and drinking booze since three days in the living room with his friend who seemingly sleeps in living room at nights.
    I wanted to know from you people if I should let it go and wait for four days by which I will be out of the air bnb host house or call the Singapore complaint centre for Airbnb right away .

  21. Nadine,

    Barcelona has a serious problem with Airbnb, see this article:

    This is one of many articles about the city government’s position and rules about short-term rentals, and believe me they ARE NOT friendly towards Airbnb. In fact, I think there is a one-year ban (as of last fall) on any new accommodations, which may increase the chances you can find yourself in a bad or shady situation. There are huge fines for illegal subletters there, so hosts are probably running into trouble from the government. It becomes apparent that your best bet for Barcelona is with an established, tax-paying legal hotel or bed and breakfast, or to skip the city if those are not affordable.

  22. Family of four had enough!
    I have been trying to book accommodation in Barcelona, along with other parts of Europe, I am methodically selecting accommodation in conjunction with booking flights, and selecting what works within my very tight budget! Our plan is to see a few countries while we have the opportunity. Most of my bookings have been through Airbnb however now I am finding after paying for accomodation I have had hosts cancell on me twice in Barcelona, the flights are booked I cannot secure accommodation within my budget at lower end as other listings previously avaible are no longer. I am being forced to look for much more expensive alternatives. My fear is the other bookings I have made doing the same, as I still 2 to 3 month wait until will go on our holiday. There should be more security for clientelle, as money back on a cancelled listing does not compensate for the affordiblity of a holiday been thrown into jepordy.

  23. Wow, reading your stories do scary me about Airbnb. Thinking there should be a website where “unhonorable” hosts and tenants are listed. @Carol, Airbnb should have a policy where you can check out a potential tenants and cancel “guilt-free” within the first 15 mins. But then again, you do need to give newcomers a chance, otherwise you can just go with well-reviewed people and reduce chances of mishaps.

  24. Just happened to me as well. Absolute rubbish. this dude cancelled mine and everyone else’s bookings 2 days before my flight. Because the booking was over super-peak period and for 8 nights, it’s been hell trying to find a decently priced accommodation at such short notice. Here is his sob story: “We are very sorry that we have to cancel your reservation as we now have legal problem with the house rent. We were inspected by police for illegal house rent to tourists. Honestly, we have been caught 2 times before for illegal rent to tourists and this morning we were caught for 3rd time.
    So, the house is being closed by police now and we cannot accommodate you anymore.
    If we rent house, we will be jailed…. hope you may understand our situation…..
    We don’t know how to say sorry about the cancellation and hope you can quickly find another place for your stay in seoul….. so so sorry……
    Kate and Jason”

    I’m half decided to expose his full details online – but I need to cool down first!
    AirBnB had better find some better way for poor users to flag rotten apples and receive feedback…. but this will be my last time on such a rubbish service.

  25. I had rented a house for 10 people for my son’s upcoming wedding last December. Yesterday, out of the blue, the host canceled. It turns out that he sold the house. How can he advertise on airbnb when he is trying to sell his house? At the very least, the host should honor his airbnb commitments prior to closing the sale on the house. Now I am stuck and stressed out looking for accommodations for 10 of my family members coming from out of state, into a small town with limited options. Prices are now at a premium. I will never book on airbnb again because of this experience. It is just too stressful and airbnb doesn’t make the situation right in any way. I believe cancellation stories like ours should be enough to make anyone change their mind about using airbnb for lodging purposes. One rotten apple ruins the entire basket, in my opinion.

  26. I just accepted a last minute late night reservation..when I could see the guest’s full name after doing so, I looked them up on Google and saw they had a lot of smut and porn videos posted on their profile and as a single woman I felt it to be an unacceptable guest. They asked to book at 9:30pm, I confirmed at 9:45pm, and cancelled at 9:46 pm. So I cancelled by calling AirBnB….now I get a $100 penalty and lose my superhost status because I am trying to protect unsavory sex perverts from staying in my home. The female AirBnB customer service rep, Mary B. was lifeless and unempathetic and said there was no way she could reverse or waive this policy and that she had to help the guest. Go AirBnB! Keep sending sex predators, meth addicts and criminals into our homes and punishing the hosts for being selective!

  27. This just happened to me . I was literally in transit to the destination when the host cancelled the reservation . It just so happens I had chosen that specific rental because I wanted to be close to my daughter who was about to undergo surgery . The townhouse was familiar to me as I had seen the complex before and it was a mere 100 yards from my daughter’s apartment . I frantically searched for something suitable in the area only to find myself renting a room in someone’s home on the other side of town and in the hills. I was forced to rent a car and incur additional expenses. After one night at this location I cut my trip short by a week, my daughter was deprived of my assistance and I had to spend another $160 to change my flight home. Perhaps the most egregious aspect of this whole fiasco was the hours and the aggravation and stress i endured , living out of a suitcase while trying to comfort my daughter and attend to her needs. The host , in an effort to save money and face lied through her teeth about maintenance being done on the property describing it as a war zone of industrial paint equipment, and unfit for habitation . She went on a diatribe about the inconvenience to her and that she would have to block the listing for a least a month . Well lo and behold I walked by this townhouse and it was a peaceful , honey suckle scented oasis. No workmen or equipment anywhere to be found. Then doing a bit more research I discovered the listing on several other rental sites including VRBO. with the unit being unavailable for a month . Clearly she received a better offer elsewhere and cancelled my week stay without giving it a second thought. To make matters worse, after 4 days of hell my flight home was cancelled as well and i spent an additional 4 hours in the airport awaiting the next available flight. I am an experienced traveler have used Airbnb a number of times without incident. I have traveled all over the world since birth and this four day trip was bar none the worst travel experience of my life. Nothing short of a complete nightmare. Airbnb has plenty of regulations in place to protect hosts, and none whatsoever to protect renters other than to offer refunds based on cancellation policies of each host. I was fortunate enough that the second host , upon learning of my situation, altered his moderate cancellation policy to give me a complete refund. This was the only salvation in what was the trip from hell.

  28. We booked two months in advance with Neil Kay for a one bedroom South of Market apartment in San Francisco. Neil cancelled FOUR days before us arriving for a HUGE business conference. We are stuck
    scrambling to find a hotel room for 7 days at a super busy time. How does Air BnB get away with this?!? 2015
    And no help or compensation whatsoever. Unbelievable. We paid $1800 two months ago and now another $2000 to try to fix this situation. Anyone on a travel budget knows that laying out cash like this is unheard of and not acceptable! Buyer Beware!

  29. I also made awful experience with airbnb. Booked an appartment in NY about two months ago. Booking was confirmed by host. Just 1 day before arrival, the booking was cancelled by airbnb! (not the host) because host has taken down the ad from airbnb web site.

    Effectively, it was airbnb who cancelled my reservation!!! This is not professional at all.


  30. This just happened to me for a business trip. I had booked well in advance because I knew it was a busy week in Geneva, Switzerland. My suspicion is that the host (highly recommended) figured out that a higher rate could be had. Because there’s no real way to review hosts for this sort of thing, no one will ever be the wiser. I’m increasingly of the view that Airbnb is not a solution for business travelers. Which is a shame because when it works, it is a welcome relief to have a nice apartment rather than a hotel. But it’s too risky. most business travelers are trying to take the stress out of travel not add an unknown element.

  31. >While it is true that you can’t leave a comment on a booking that is >cancelled by the host, I think there is an automatic message left in >review section when a host cancels and how many days before they did.

    My booking was cancelled by Host, there was an automatic post that booking was cancelled by host( there was at least 20 posts booking was cancelled by host) after 2 months this posts dissapeared and now i can see just positive reviews.

  32. While it is true that you can’t leave a comment on a booking that is cancelled by the host, I think there is an automatic message left in review section when a host cancels and how many days before they did.

    Therefore, future potential customers do see that transparency of cancellation of past guest bookings and they can decide whether they want to trust the host or not.

    I do agree that AirBnB should offer more compensation, or offer an iron-clad guarantee if a host cancels, like a fully paid for booking at a 4 star or better hotel within 2 miles of the booking, where possible.

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