Last-Minute Cancellation before Christmas Holidays in Hawaii

My booking through Airbnb six months ago for a monthly rental during the Christmas holidays in Hilo, Hawaii was cancelled at the last minute by the hosts and their agent. There has been no remedy or compensation for the last minute disruption or the costs incurred by us. This caused significant stress, anxiety and costs for us. Airbnb will not remedy the matter, the rental company has not responded to us – see my detailed issue filed with them – and there has been no remediation after many emails and phone calls. I would avoid doing business with these guys. The next step is to pursue legal action to bring the matter public and make buyers beware.

We are an elderly couple from Chicago. We planned to celebrate our Christmas holidays and spend our winter months with my wife’s aging mother in Hilo. This was a special occasion for us celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary. It was also a final anticipated return visit to the island after 30 years for my wife’s mother. We spent a lot of time researching the house because my wife’s elderly mother needed a single level house with no steps to climb and a walk-in shower set up.

The house we booked met our needs. After the cancellation by the host, we scrambled to find an alternative through the agent as well as through Airbnb. Due to the last-minute nature of host’s cancellation, the local agent was unable to find any place suitable in Hilo for Christmas or in any of the neighboring islands. We requested help from Airbnb and they too were not able to locate a suitable accommodation that met our needs. This caused significant stress to our family, incurred additional costs, and disruption to our long-anticipated vacation.

We had airline bookings that we could not cancel. My daughter and her husband were planning to be with us for Christmas and had booked all their flights and made plans to be in Hilo. We ended up finding a small two-bedroom townhouse in Oahu on our own after two weeks of searching in Hawaii and ended up paying a much higher cost and a premium to get the property during the Christmas holidays. We also paid a penalty to change the flights to Oahu instead of Hilo.

The townhouse does not meet our needs and we are not happy. My daughter and her husband could not change flights due to the Christmas rush and were not able to celebrate Christmas with us. They had spent money out of pocket to find accommodation and transportation in Hilo and it caused significant hardship to them. Given the unexpected nature of this cancellation by the host for rental during the holiday period, our options were very limited. We hold the owner, their agent and Airbnb responsible for this cancellation.

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for reporting this. I am sorry to hear about this. Could you please also post how the resolution process with the host and Airbnb goes? It is good to know about the problems that arise, but if you actually want something to change, you also need to showcase how Airbnb deals with these issues! Because the bottom line is that things can always go wrong, but what matters is how they are resolved: is speedy and just remedy available for you as a consumer?

    Did you get a full refund? I assume yes. But how about other immediate costs incurred, such as alternative accommodation or flight tickets? How has been the communication with Airbnb?

    Please do follow-up!

  2. Just in case you are wondering how this works for the host – I thought I’d weigh in. If your host has an extenuating circumstance and can prove it, there will be absolutely no penalties whatsoever.

    However if there was no extenuating circumstance, a full refund is processed, your host is fined additionally (up to 100 dollars) and the dates you should have stayed there remains unavailable in their calendar.

    If it happens more than three times in a short period they will be stopped from using the platform again.

    I know it’s not much consolation, but I thought you’d appreciate the info.

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