What is Airbnb's refund policy?

Unexpected problems, surprise last-minute travel plan changes, sleep accommodations that just don’t match up with what you booked… there are reasons why you may want your money back for a cancelled Airbnb booking. Consequently, you may ask, what is Airbnb’s refund policy? Is it easy to get your money back, and under what conditions? Our Airbnb management agency, Luckey, can explain.

At Airbnb, there are two types of scenarios that justify a refund: a cancellation of the reservation (either on the part of the host or the traveler) or an unexpected incident which occurred during your travels. In the case of a cancelled reservation, the refund amount is determined in conjunction with the cancellation conditions chosen by the host, as well as the date on which the guest cancelled their reservation (these conditions are clearly specified in the listing, and thus a part of the reservation process).

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Airbnb Hosts: multiple cancellation conditions are possible

Airbnb offers its hosts the possibility to choose between three different cancelation options designed to protect the hosts and its guests.

Flexible: A complete refund for a limited time

In the “flexible” host cancellation policy, a complete refund of the accommodation fees (excluding service fees) will be given if the guest cancelation occurs at minimum 24 hours before the expected arrival time. If the cancelation occurs in less than 24 hours of the expected arrival time, the accommodation fees for the nights guests will not stay in the accommodation 24 hours after the official cancelation will be completely reimbursed. The first night will not be refunded.

Moderate: A complete refund for a limited time

If the cancelation conditions fall within the “moderate” policy, the guest must cancel at least five days in advance before the expected arrival date in order to receive a complete refund. If the cancelation occurs less than four days in advance of the arrival date, or after the guests arrive to their accommodations, the fees for the nights the guests will not be staying in the lodging will be reimbursed up to 50%. The first night is not refundable.

Strict: A complete refund if cancellation occurs within 48 hours after the arrival period

If the host has chosen a “strict” policy, a refund of up to 50% of the accommodation costs can be made only if the cancellation occurs at least seven days before the scheduled arrival time. If cancellation occurs less than seven days in advance, the booked nights will not be refunded by Airbnb. To benefit from a complete refund of the accommodation fees, the cancellation must occur at least 48 hours after the reservation has been made. However, if this reservation is confirmed less than 14 days before the local time of arrival indicated on the listing (3:00 pm if the time is not indicated), the 48-hour period will not apply.

Very Strict: A 30+ day delay

To receive a 50% refund of the accommodation fees, the guest must cancel 30 full days before the local hour of arrival indicated on the host listing (or 3:00 pm if not specified). Some cancellation policies may require up to 60 days’ notice. For Airbnb listings considered “long term,” the entire first month of the reservation is owed to the host and will not be refunded to the guests.

Airbnb acknowledges that there are cases of chance occurrences or unavoidable accidents. These cases may justify a complete refund when canceling a stay. Such cases may include:

  • A death in the family;
  • A serious illness of a guest or close family member;
  • A natural disaster or civil unrest in the destination country in which the Airbnb listing exists;
  • A government-mandated obligation (i.e. jury duty, etc.)

Any other reason not falling within this framework will not be considered as justifying a full refund of the stay by Airbnb.

In the case where cancellation is prompted by the host, Airbnb guarantees a full refund to the guest.

Refund from Airbnb: what is the process?

In all previously-cited cases, the following process should be followed:

  • Log into the client area on the Airbnb site, and click or tap “Trips.” It’s at the top of the Airbnb website, and at the bottom of the app;
  • Select the reservation you want to cancel;
  • Click or tap on the “Request a refund” tab.
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Cancellation process for incidents that occur during travel

In cases where the guest suffers a “travel incident,” they can claim, under certain conditions, a refund. Airbnb defines a “travel incident” as an event falling within one of the following categories:

1. Inability to access the accommodation: the guest is unable to access the lodging due to host error (e.g. the host has not provided keys or a security code to enter the accommodation).

2. Inaccurate listing details: there is a great discrepancy between what was advertised in the listing and the reality of the accommodation (e.g. size, number of rooms, location, or promised amenities).

3. Health and safety concerns: the accommodation is neither clean nor safe, or an animal is present in the accommodation without that information being communicated before booking.

If a guest finds themselves in one of these three situations, Airbnb recommends first trying to resolve the problem directly with the host. If this attempt is unsuccessful, Airbnb has a refund policy and can intervene as a mediator. Following this, it will be necessary to file a complaint. It is important to note that Airbnb has the final say in what happens.

If the incident occurs during the arrival period, contact Airbnb within 24 hours. Airbnb will require photographic evidence or any other documentation that may support the refund request; moreover, Airbnb will require proof that the guest has tried to contact the host to solve the problem directly (e.g. through Airbnb messaging). Once the platform has accepted a refund request, the amount is re-transferred to the guest within a period of 5 to 15 business days.

Our Airbnb Luckey concierge service and its customer-support team is always readily available. We are also on the lookout for booking cancellations that occur to our Airbnb hosts.

Article written by Guillaume Lapointe-Gagner

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Luckey and Airbnb
Since its purchase in December 2018, Luckey has become an Airbnb wholly-owned subsidiary.
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