Because of the current state of the global coronavirus pandemic, Airbnb has announced updates to its policies that provide reservation cancellations without charge for stays booked in specific areas. Guests who booked reservations through Airbnb in Mainland China, South Korea, Italy and the United States are now eligible to cancel their stays without incurring any fees.
The policy, detailed by Airbnb on their newsroom page, applies to all reservations booked in the U.S. before and including today, March 13, that have a check-in date of April 1, 2020 or earlier. This time-bounding seems reasonable, as it's basically covering bookings made by people uninformed about the situation in the U.S. and extending to an endpoint that fits with most of the existing measures being taken by states and communities around social distancing and travel limitations. Airbnb also notes in its news release that it'll continue to assess the situation, meaning the specifics of its extenuating circumstances coverage could change.
In addition to the specific countries mentioned above, Airbnb is extending the no-charge cancellation policy to anyone from the U.S. who has a reservation in Europe's Schengen Area, and to anyone globally, including both hosts and guests, who has to cancel a reservation:
- In order to comply with disease control restrictions implemented by relevant governmental or health authorities;
- In order to perform medical or disease control duties in connection with the COVID-19 outbreak;
- As a result of flight or ground transportation cancellations initiated by an airline or ground transportation provider due to the COVID-19 outbreak;
- In the event that they are diagnosed or suspected of being infected with COVID-19 by a medical or health authority.
This is a pretty laudable coverage policy by Airbnb that would seem to cover just about anyone whose travel plans are directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. That said, it's likely that anyone considering any kind of global travel is at least reconsidering their plans -- including any and all Airbnb bookings.