Advice on cancelling without penalty

Hey everyone,

Long time, no post! Hope you’re all well!

I woke up today realising that I have double-booked an Airbnb booking with a more lucrative non-Airbnb booking.

The value of this booking is quite high, so if cancellation leads to a % penalty, it will be quite high.

Can anyone offer advice on how to cancel the Airbnb booking without getting penalised?

You can’t. About all you can do is either cancel the non-Airbnb booking or see if the Airbnb guest is amenable to cancelling themselves, after you explain to them what happened and make sure they get a full refund including the service charges.

If they just made that booking and the dates aren’t imminent, they may be amenable, but if they made the booking awhile ago, they will probably be very irritated, and rightly so.

If you can recommend another comparable listing close by, that might help.


Thanks Muddy.

Both sites penalise, but I’d rather get penalised by Airbnb.

The guest will definitely not cancel as they will penalised if they do.

They booked in start of April for end of June.

Unfortunately not.


A host can always choose to refund as much $ as they want to, regardless of what the guest would automatically be refunded according to the cancellation policy, if anything. You would have to use the Resolution Center “send money” option.

So, you’re saying that host and guest agree to cancel the booking with neither being penalised, but host agrees to pay the guest something over and above their refund to get their agreement?

Since you mentioned that your ‘other’ reservation is much more money in your pocket I’d make sure that the Airbnb guest gets some extra $$$ for going out of their way to help you out. Since we have no idea where you’re located, how much money is involved and what type of accommodation you offer it’s impossible to say how well the guest should be compensated - also because it’s an inconvenience and maybe even difficult to find another comparable alternative.

Best of luck though.

Yes, something like that. But the host and guest can’t really agree, except in messages, to cancel the booking- one or the other has to be the one to cancel.

I’ve heard of Airbnb agreeing to do a “neutral” cancellation, but I wouldn’t trust them not to penalize you when made aware of the reason for the cancellation.

What I don’t understand is if the Airbnb guest booked way back in April, did you just get another booking for the same dates on another platform?

If so, it would be really unethical to cancel the guest who booked first in April, just because the other booking might be more lucrative. This is exactly why platforms penalize hosts for cancelling bookings- it’s the host’s responsibility to make sure their calendars are up to date and synced.


One option is to explain to the guest and admit your error. You can compensate them for canceling since it will be an inconvenience to them.

When I have explained to the guest is that I can cancel on my end and pay the penalty to Airbnb and guest will not see a dollar of that penalty. Or they can cancel on their end and I will pay them half of the penalty I would have to pay Airbnb.

I paid the guest on Zelle or PayPal to establish some good will and trust.

Great news! The issue is not an issue.

I thought I double-booked because Airbnb showed it in my inbox as “Reservation” with dates and amounts etc. But it seems the guest never completed their booking! :partying_face:

Thanks for the feedback everyone.


I don’t get it. So this reservation never was even showing on your calendar?

I had to cancel a guest weekend rental due to a mistake in setting up my Airbnb calendar. The guest refused to cancel. It cost me $1500 in penalties and there was nothing I could do about it.