a pool with palm trees and chairs

Airbnb has been a wildly popular option recently, as travelers look to reconnect not only with the world, but friends family and loved ones.

A multi-bedroom home or apartment rental is often markedly cheaper or more fun than a hotel, and with hotels doing their best to nickel and dime guests at the moment, they haven’t done themselves many favors.

In a consumer friendly, but business headachy move, Airbnb has allowed guests a great deal of flexibility if Covid-19 played a factor in reservations, with a generous cxl policy in place.

As the world gets back to “normal”, whatever that may be these days, that flexibility is going away, and the most common gripe with Airbnb is back.

a pool with lounge chairs and a radio

Airbnb Ending Covid-19 Cancellation Refunds

Despite being one of the greatest disruptors in the travel space, bringing incredible accommodation options ranging from basic to absolutely baller in places hotels can’t even exist, Airbnb isn’t very consumer friendly with cancellations.

Most reservations only offer 24-48 hours to cancel from the time of booking. If you can’t travel, you’re basically eating it. Counter that with hotels, where rates exist which offer full refunds up to the day before, and it’s a very different experience.

One could argue if Airbnb actually created great refund options or rates which allowed them, the hotel industry would be seriously screwed. Hosts are partly to blame, but it’s certainly an area for growth. Anyway, things are changing. Airbnb is sunsetting its easy Covid-19 cancellation policy.

a pool with palm trees and chairs

New Policy For Airbnb Bookings From May 31st, 2022

For bookings made May 31st, 2022 and onward, a guest or host testing positive for Covid-19 will no longer be considered an “extenuating circumstance” by Airbnb, and therefore refunds for these reasons won’t be granted. At least, according to policy.

A host could choose to refund, or offer a more flexible policy, but it won’t automatically be covered for any new bookings from this date onward. Some countries have ended all isolation guidelines, even for those with positive tests.

“Some in the travel industry stopped this type of policy months ago, while others didn’t provide one at all. After consultation with our medical advisors, as well as our community, we feel the time is now right to take the same step.”


Basically, if you have a trip related issue due to Covid-19 and book an Airbnb after May 31st, it’s between you and the stay host to figure things out. Airbnb will no longer issue a full refund automatically, based on a positive test or Covid-19 related snag.

Maybe this change will create a new area of wiggle room for haggling with hosts?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. The only surprising thing is that it took this long. Does any major hotel chain still allow an exception for positive tests?

    In related news, I’m happy to see they introduced a Firm cancellation policy recently that straddles the chasm between moderate and strict with 30 days notice to get a refund. I know a host with a 4 bedroom mountain house who hated the strict cancellation policy bc it was too onerous and caused people to not book in advance, but hated the moderate policy because it is almost impossible to re-rent an entire house if someone cancels a week before check-in. It drove me to VRBO when renting large houses as hosts there often utilized the 30 or 60 day refund policy.

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