Family emergency request - but just a day later?

We have a couple scheduled to check in today to stay through Monday. She wrote to me to say that they had a family emergency this morning and asked if they could maybe check in tomorrow at 10am instead.

I replied that I was so sorry to hear, and would be happy to refund them in full despite our policy. It was my immediate read of the situation - just that they were looking for that, and genuinely if there is a family emergency the last thing you want to be worried about is lost money or try to trudge through a beach vacation so you don’t. No response.

I am just having trouble squaring family emergency with coming early the next day?

We’ve been burned so badly by recent guests and have basically resigned from this whole thing, but these people booked a few months ago (instant, no reviews, no profile photo – which sure is a warning but we’ve also had wonderful guests with the same) and I didn’t want to ruin their plans. We are far beyond the money at this point.

I’m seriously considering a same day cancel. Am I right to trust my gut or being unfair?

I know this forum will give me a dose of reality.

Here’s what I would have said:

"I’m so sorry to hear about this emergency. I really hope you and your family/friends are well. Thank you so much for letting us know about your slight change of plans. The home will be 100% ready for you the moment you arrive tomorrow at 10AM.

Let us know if you have any further questions. We’re here to help!"

You are more generous than we are. I would not give them a refund they didn’t ask for. Also: providing the accommodation the following day at 10AM equates to them booking the home the prior day anyway. You have given them full control and put yourself in a place where only they gain and you lose.

We have had overseas flights cancel, emergencies, etc. while traveling. I’ll give hosts a heads up to the situation (with zero intent of getting any money back). They give similar answers above and that’s the end of it. I’m entitled to zero refund and they don’t want to offer me one out of the gate. And that’s fine. Maybe next time!

As for the rest of their stay? I think they’ll be great! So be sure to still host them the rest of the time!


Whoa !!! what?


Let them check in tomorrow, do not adjust a thing



I agree. Guest didn’t ask for a refund, just a late check-in, which I would expect most hosts could accommodate very easily since Airbnb pushed self check-in during the pandemic.


I usually trust my gut, but this is different from checking in the next afternoon or evening. It’s too late now but I would have waited until they asked.

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A family emergency can be anything at all. It’s not necessarily serious – just something that delayed them a day. I’ve had guests check in the next day many times, and all was well. No refunds, no drama, just that their own plans were messed up a bit and they handled it.


I would write back immediately and rescind the offer of a “full refund.” I’d say something to the effect of misreading the message and thinking they wanted to check in the next night at 10 pm. Tell them they are free to check in any time tomorrow as the entire day is already paid for and go from there. If they are too taken up to reply to your first message, maybe they will reply now. But don’t overthink it. Just do nothing and wait for them to show up and then go from there. I advise you ask here first, not after you’ve committed something to the Airbnb message thread.

Also, I can easily see a family emergency necessitating just a small delay. Their family issues aren’t your concern. Just focus on your Airbnb business.


I’ll try and close this out to not waste anyones time. They took me up on my offer to cancel. I’m of the mindset that I dodged a bullet, or, worse, something was very wrong in their family and they were trying to juggle and that wouldn’t have worked out well. I don’t want guests that are either 1. looking for sympathy from the beginning or 2. not fully able to appreciate their stay.


I understand that we are running businesses. But Airbnb was built on the idea of sharing your place with someone, ensuring they enjoy it ---- it’s personal, different than other lodging options, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Sure, the majority of people are wonderful and a few are terrible and as much as you can try (or trust reviews) you just never know. My gut went back and forth on this, so I posted about it, and I’m very grateful for the replies. I suppose I just fundamentally think about it differently.

I would have said “the space is yours from [checkin-time] today, and if an emergency delays your arrival until tomorrow or even later today, this is not at all a problem. We do like to greet our guests personally and get them settled, so please give me a few hours notice so we can be sure to be there to welcome you to your accommodations.”

You’re right, but the crucial word here is “was”. Now Airbnb is no different to any other major corporation, they are driven purely by profit, no matter how hard they try to portray it as a “community”.

My OH and I were discussing the changes we’ve seen with Airbnb over the years, going back to the days when (in Europe) it was a choice between Airbnb and Wimdu. Anyone remember them!

Some of our thoughts are probably worth a separate topic!

Anyway, I think you’ve left money on the table here, but if you’re good with it, who are we to criticise.



I may be a bit cynical but I just don’t believe guests anymore. I have a strict cancellation policy and I agree with everyone else that has posted here.


I think it’s good and humane to be open to things on a circumstantial basis, not necessarily take a hard line across the board. We’ve all had emergency or unforeseen situations, and sometimes we need to put ourselves in the guest’s place and think about how we’d like to be treated if we were in their position.

But please keep in mind that when you indiscriminately throw refunds at guests for cancellations or complaints, it sets up guest expectations that then affect other hosts. Who then have to deal with nasty, entitled guest messages like, “You’re a greedy #+*%. Why should I pay anything if I can’t come? All my past hosts have given me full refunds when I had to cancel. I’ve reported you to Airbnb, you won’t get away with this.”

If you aren’t going to stand by your cancellation policy, it’s sort of pointless to have one. Of course you can make an exception sometimes if you have good reason to believe the guest, but someone cancelling last minute, leaving you with dates you can’t rebook, shouldn’t get off with a full refund.


I have to pretty much (sadly) agree with this wholeheartedly. Just too much experience proves it time and time again.


I thought the same thing when I read the post. I agree. When hosts let guest check in early or late it along with cancellations with refunds, it just makes it harder for other hosts.

It would be one thing if I had multiple listings but I only have this one source of income for STR. My feeling is that if you are going to prevent others from booking the dates, then you own those dates. That’s what travel insurance is for.


Disagree. When we can do it, we allow it. When we can’t, we don’t.

I know this has been discussed ad nauseum on here, but to us, it’s just part of the job.



Not really. Others including me have given refunds when we didn’t have to. The older I get the more I think I neeeeed to listen to my gut feeling.

Recently I felt like a guest was going to be trouble. There was something in their communication about the condo. I sent some information about their stay (hot tub closed for repairs) and stated since It may not be repaired by their stay, they could cancel with full refund. They did. I’m glad. I feel like I dodged a negative situation.

Manage your rental as you wish, but be fair to yourself. That doesn’t always mean maximizing income. Managing stress has value too


I just hosted a couple for a week who had “something come up” and asked ,“would you mind if we checked in tomorrow?” It never occurred to me to do anything other than reply, “no problem - see you tomorrow!”

I learn so much on this site…:wink:


This. Yep. 100%. VERY WELL SAID.
Then perhaps ad, if you like: “If you wish to cancel entirely, we will refund any days that get rebooked by another party”.
You have already said that you refunded them, so it is academic but that is what we would have done.

Absolutely! Life is too short and there has to be a balance between making money and enjoying your days. We’ve had a lot of death and near-death in our circle this past 2 weeks and it’s a good reminder to live with your values/priorities in mind (and for some it’s to die with the most money, they knock themselves out).

I know you have resolved this to your satisfaction but I just wanted to share that I did this (same day cancel) recently and it’s a horrible thing for many reasons. I dodged a nasty bullet so I don’t regret that, but it still felt like a :poop: thing to do to someone. I’m glad you didn’t have to do that.

You had a bad feeling & found a way out of the situation that didn’t get you penalized outside of the lost revenue. Clearly, it was best for them that they not come since they picked to cancel, and since you felt it best for you also, it’s a win.

I had someone reach out the day before arrival saying a friend of the group’s (not part of it) had committed suicide :frowning_face_with_open_mouth: and they were considering not coming…asked what was my policy? (they already knew it…feeling me out). I could tell by how it was written the guest was looking for an excuse to still come…they just felt guilty about it. So I stated the policy and added nothing else. They messaged back they were coming, had a great time, 5 stars for us both (I threw in some chocolates and mimosas to help them relax :wink:).

BUT if I’d sensed a real crisis from them, I’d have offered to do a non-refundable extension in their case as rebooking was not an option (I don’t take same days). This is me balancing my compassion with running a profitable business. And, there are cases where’d I’d just refund and move on as you did.

My point is the answer isn’t always cut and try. As @Annet3176 said manage your rental the way you wish.

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