Recent cancellation refund experience around what counts as EC

Just wanted to post some recent experience with cancellations and refund.

Newspapers report that there were several flight cancellations around Christmas. A couple of guests claimed that their flight got canceled, or they could not get to the airport on time, so I need to refund them. Most likely they were truthful but there is a chance they might be taking advantage of the news to get a refund. I explained to them that I did not cancel their flight and other guests have managed to rearrange their flights, so I cannot refund them. I told them to ask the airline, and their travel insurance provider for compensation. As expected, some started arguing. After a couple of friendly messages, I told them to contact Airbnb support. Some of these guests claimed “extenuating circumstances” due to an emergency being declared where they live. I told Airbnb not to provide any refund and Airbnb declined their refund request. One guest raised a support ticket five times with Airbnb. Sent me a few resolution requests. Eventually I had to block her from wasting my time.

My studio remained vacant, and I was not able to get any replacement last minute bookings. Some of the days I had no bookings for also didn’t book, probably because not enough people could make it to the island due to the flight disruption.

The takeaway for me is emergencies or flight cancellations in a different regions don’t count as extenuating circumstances. I know another CS might view it differently, but atleast there is a precedent I can point to. I’m the hosting business rather than the travel insurance business, and I’d like to keep it that way.

I’m interested in reading how Airbnb handled refund requests for other hosts.

I’m not surprised that a flight cancellation is not an extenuating circumstance.

See: Extenuating Circumstances Policy - Airbnb Help Center

Airbnb defines FIVE extenuating circumstances:

– Changes to government travel requirements
– Declared emergencies and epidemics
– Government travel restrictions
– Military actions and other hostilities
– Natural disasters

Everything else is not covered.

You might have missed an opportunity here.

You could have asked them to cancel but also ask what dates they might be able to re-book and that you’d give them ‘special consideration.’

Then, with these new data points, increase prices for those dates. :rofl: :rofl:


Definitely. I tried that with one guest but wanted me to give her assurance of a refund.

LOL… I dropped my rates aggressively but could not get any bookings.


I was curious if these events in the region of the guest would count as EC. If my island airport or cruise ship port is open, I’m not providing any refund.

I don’t want to be held responsible for events that occur outside of my region. That’s what travel insurance is for. Somebody could temporarily move themselves digitally to that location and claim a refund.

Well, whether the guest cancels or not the guest will not receive a refund because the flight cancellation is not an extenuating circumstance. As you point out, this is why people buy travel insurance.

But if they cancel before check-in time they get a return of the cleaning fee.

Plus you’ll give them that ‘special consideration’ when they tell you what their re-booking dates might be. Smiling Face with Horns on Skype Emoticons 1.2

But even if the port is closed, unless it is closed due to one of those five EC events, it is not an extenuating circumstance.

I would think that if an EC event occurs anywhere that disrupts the travel then it is an EC event for the guest. For example, if a guest’s connecting flight is cancelled because of an EC event at that connecting location, it is an EC event.

The 'What is not covered section specifically mentions ‘road closures, as well as flight, train, bus and ferry cancellations’ unless related to one of the five EC events.

This is the problem with EC. It does not specific in what geography EC is applicable. Why should I have to pay for an event that I have nothing to do with?

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You don’t have anything to do with any EC event (unless you’ve been really naughty).

It’s common sense that if the EC event disrupts the guest’s travel then it is an EC event for the guest.

[That’s why someone here brilliantly observed that the Host will not accept an alteration of the reservation to include an additional guest post-booking because that increases the probability of an EC event. I now am prepared to say to a guest wishing to add someone post-booking that I will do so once they are at my front door but not earlier for this very reason.]

If there is an EC event in Atlanta and that EC event results in the guest’s flight from NYC being cancelled then I would think it is an EC event for the guest who has a connecting flight in Atlanta.

I am sure others will correct me if I am mistaken. @muddy?

My listing is in a hurricane area. If a hurricane occurs in my area, I consider that my problem. I think it would be considered a natural disaster, but I’m not sure.

But if a hurricane occurs where the guest lives, it’s not my mistake that they choose to live there.

Well, you would not be actually paying for it, you just wouldn’t be being paid for what was a confirmed booking, which is two different things. It’s a loss in anticipated revenue, rather being charged for something.

I think the EC policies pretty much fairly address circumstances outside a guest’s control. They literally can’t get to your place even if they really wanted to.

The EC policy also applies to hosts- if you couldn’t host because the city had a sewer issue, and they were digging up and repairing the lines, so your toilets were not functional, that would be totally outside your control and you likely would not feel it fair to be penalized for it. Same for if you had a hurricane and guests were unable to access your listing. Just because there was no hurricane where the guests were coming from doesn’t mean they can insist that you host them, or pay them for the inconvenience.

And no, guests can’t always reschedule or rebook a flight. I’m sure you are aware that thousands of passengers got stranded over the holidays due to extreme weather conditions. It wasn’t a matter of them just finding another flight to take- all flights were grounded.

However,I certainly agree that guests should purchase travel insurance that would cover them for situations like this.


Well, if you’re in OK then a hurricane is a natural disaster. But generally not in FL since hurricanes in hurricane season are a ‘natural condition’ and foreseeable in FL.

BUT when that hurricane is declared an emergency then I would think it IS an EC even in FL during hurricane season. Not because it is a natural disaster but because it is a declared emergency. For example, Gov DeSantis declared a state of emergency for Hurricane Ian. So THAT hurricane was an EC.

But not any old hurricane.

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yes, it was in the news. I know the news can be fake but I believe this one because I didn’t get as many last minute bookings.

For a moment, let’s assume the guests were truthful and they could not get to my place. But in this case, Airbnb didn’t provide them a refund. So my guess is either the guests could not produce proof or Airbnb does not consider the storms and declared emergencies in CA, TX, NY as part of EC.

@muddy makes a few important points here.

First, she points out:

That emphasizes that the guest who asks the Host for the EC refund should be directed to Airbnb.

Next she points out that even though there were declared emergencies in three states Airbnb didn’t provide the refund, suggesting to me that the emergencies in those states did not make it ‘impracticable’ or ‘illegal’ for the guest to ‘complete’ the reservation.

It IS nice that Airbnb makes this determination rather than the Host trying to figure that out or having a potentially contentious back/forth with the guest on that.

[I do wonder what ‘complete the reservation’ means? If the guest can arrive a day later on a seven day reservation, can they ‘complete’ it?]

It’s not about it being your or anyone’s mistake or fault.

If an EC event occurs anywhere such that it makes it ‘impracticable’ or ‘illegal’ for the guest to ‘complete the reservation’ then the guest can ask Airbnb for an EC cancellation.

Right. Local weather conditions are not supposed to be covered under the EC policy, although as you mentioned, some CS rep might refund a guest and you’d have to argue policy with them.

Unless an official state of emergency is declared, guests shouldn’t be eligible for a refund (warnings to stay off the roads, not to venture out unless it’s totally essential, local road or highway closures aren’t declared official states of emergency). Just because the roads are covered in snow and haven’t been plowed yet, meaning the guest couldn’t get to the airport in time, or their flight got posponed until the following day because of a blizzard, doesn’t mean it’s an EC. Inclement snowy weather conditions in the majority of the US and Canada in the winter are a foregone expectation, just as hurricanes in Florida are.

Personally, I would be inclined to refund a guest partially in that type of circumstance- after all, not their whole nightly booking fee is money in the host’s pocket- refunding what one’s expenses would have been had the guests actually stayed- utilities and amenities, laundry, etc. costs- seems a fair, goodwill offering, as well as a further refund if you manage to rebook dates.

I’ve had a few guests miss the first day of their bookings due to overbooked flights, bad weather, airplane mechanical issues, etc, and none of them tried to cancel their booking or asked to be refunded for the missed night. In fact, I actually offered to refund them that night, because they had week or two week long bookings, and they said not to be silly- that there was no reason for me to take a loss for something that wasn’t my fault (I seem to get a lot nicer guests than a lot of hosts do).

Of course, they may have felt differently if the listing was $500/night instead of my $40/ night private room listing. :wink:

Good example of Airbnb’s strange, ambiguous language. Does “complete” mean able to check-in on the check-in date, (which should, in that case, really say “commence”, not “complete”) or mean they can only stay part of the time?

I gave a refund of consumables and cleaning fees, but the guest said the refund I gave her was a joke since her total trip cost was far higher. She also refused to cancel and unblock my calendar. There was no more goodwill left on my side for a refund.

One guest came a day later. No requests for refunds or anything. Left me a five star review as well.

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I wasn’t referring to this specific guest, just in general if a guest really has a legit reason outside their control why they can’t make it. Yes, there will always be guests like this, I’m afraid. Nothing is good enough for them or appreciated unless it’s exactly what they want (You meet those types in all walks of life). Like guests who choose a non-refundable cancellation option to save 10%, then try to get their money back if they cancel, like they don’t understand what “non-refundable” means.

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That’s why we walked back from that policy. I had thought it was an incentive that would increase bookings. It may well have been, but the only 2 guests that cancelled under that policy requested refunds anyway. They were cancelling far enough out that rebooking was super likely, and it happened, but my wife and I were looking at each other like, “why are we even having this conversation if they booked non-refundable?” We just have the one Flex cancellation policy now. Now everyone pays full rate, but if they cancel it’s not a hassle for us. And 90% of all our cancellations, which are few (but increasing lately…) rebook in a short time, or at least eventually.