Is this Alteration Request a Way for Guest to Cancel Penalty Free?

I think it is not a way to cancel penalty free, but I’d like to make sure.
Strict cancelation policy in effect

8/31Request to book made and accepted for 9/8-13
8/31Guest writes that they must cancel because companion is not coming
9/1 Host writes to contact Airbnb for any cancelation and refund
9/1 Guest makes alteration request for 9/6-9/10, saying guest can come after all if earlier

The guest could be juggling an honest personal scheduling issue. However, it may well be an attempt to cancel penalty free since the guest has already inquired about a refund. Approving it will be a gamble. If your place fills up easily you can approve it and keep your fingers crossed. Five days is a lot to lose, but I always trust my gut when making these decisions,

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Thank you.

But under strict cancellation my understanding is that they can cancel penalty free only if:

  1. Within 48 hours of making reservation, AND
  2. 14 days before check-in for a full refund, or 7 days before check-in for 50% refund
    Do I have that right?
    SO, if I accepted the alteration request they would not meet condition 2 (since 9/1 is not 14 days before 9/6) and therefore would get only a 50% refund, correct?

I wonder also if I declined the alteration request after 4 pm today (4 pm is our check-in time) and then they canceled that they would get no refund because the cancelation would occur less than seven days ahead of time IF Airbnb counts the minutes and hours. [I wouldn’t wait for that reason but curious if folks here know how Airbnb calculates things.]

Yes, that’s correct. You don’t have anything to worry about if the 48 hours have passed as far as not getting a payout but the 7th day is another checkpoint, if you’re hoping to get the whole payout and not 50%. BUT only if the guest is moving the check-in date forward (not earlier).

  1. The 48 hours is based on booking date and the booking date never changes and cannot be changed, only the dates of the stay can be changed and they don’t affect the booking date. So, that 48 hours never starts over. If it’s passed, it’s passed.

  2. Also, there’s no benefit to the guest to alter the date to an earlier date. That doesn’t give them more time to cancel, it gives them less days before the stay date which makes it less likely that they can cancel.

The ruse you’re thinking about is when the guest requests to alter the dates forward, later than the original dates. How that affects a host depends on their cancellation policy. My wholly unscientific suspicion is that hosts with the moderate policy are the most vulnerable to this ruse so I’ll use the moderate policy as an example:

The moderate policy is: Guests can cancel until 5 days before check-in for a full refund, and you won’t be paid. If they cancel after that, you’ll be paid for each night they stay, plus 1 additional night, plus 50% for all unspent nights.

It’s that first part about the 5 days that is important:

  1. Guest books for Sept 10-16. Guest has until Sept 5 to cancel without any penalty.

  2. On Sept 7, Guest is given tickets to a concert in a different city (or whatever, lol).

  3. Guest wants to cancel his Airbnb reservation that starts Sept 10 but it’s 2 days too late for him to cancel without penalty.

  4. So Guest sends a reservation change request asking to move his check-in date forward by 2 days so that it starts on Sep 12 instead of Sep 10.

  5. Unsuspecting host accepts the change request to Sep 12 (which “just” happens to be 5 or more days in the future).

  6. Guest goes online and cancels his Sep 12 on Sep 7 with no penalty. Host gets nada.

In your case, your guest would have to move their reservation to Sep 8, not for before Sep 8 to get their 50% back. They already can cancel for 50%, so there’s no benefit to move it earlier.

But to answer the other part of your question, it is most definitely based on your check-in time. In my scenario Guest would be similarly screwed on Sep 5 at 4:05 pm as he was on Sep 7.

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Thank you.

I did accept the alteration request. The request, by the way, had in italics “Reservation is nonrefundable.”

The cancelation, if it came, would have been within 48 hours.

What would have given the guest a 50% refund was that the cancelation would have been seven days+ from the check-in date of 9/8.

When the guest changed the check-in date to 9/6, it was no longer seven days+ from the check-in date-- it was under seven days – and therefore became 100% non-refundable.

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Your guest already had up until your check-in time today to get a 50% refund. If they had missed the deadline and wanted to trick you they would’ve asked to move the check-in date to at least Sep 9, giving their reservation that 7 days before check-in so they could cancel to get 50% back.

At first, I was thinking that it must be a coincidence that they did it today. But then I realized that, they were going to cancel before the deadline, then decided they didn’t want to lose the other 50% and so they got together and figured out how to make the trip work instead of canceling. So, that was your cancelation policy working for you!