Refunding non-refundable booking?

We offer 10% discount with no-refund bookings. An hour ago I got message from a guest cancelling their booking since travelling companion has contracted covid-19 and expressing "their disappointment for my lack of understanding for the trying times in the world. I was like, what? Then I found the request for full refund, which I had not seen. If I had seen it in time I would probably refunded like 50%. If this person had booked without the discount they would have time to cancel and get a refund. I find this pretty rude and got a bit angry and replied I was disappointed in their lack of understanding in non-refundable booking.
But what will you do in such cases? Would you refund fully, partly or not at all?

No refund for a no refund booking.

That said they may appeal to Airbnb and you may be overriden. The other thing it that in these uncertain times, regardless of your policies or that of the platform you are using (Airbnb or any other one) there are going to be a lot more cancellations. I suspect people are going to claim they or someone in the travel party got covid or lost their job or the flight was canceled or whatever more than in the old days. You will have to figure out how you are going to deal with each claim.


To me, the length of time between booking and cancelling is the most important thing. If someone cancels almost at once after booking (let’s say within the next 24 hours) then the chances are that they’ve found somewhere else that they prefer (for whatever reason) and therefore use some pretense to cancel.

I’ll definitely refund if the cancellation is pretty soon after booking.

I have a strict cancellation policy, but I refund if my house rebooks. However, I haven’t signed up for this ridiculous program of ABB’s exactly for this reason. People will pick it for the discount and STILL want a full refund. These guests picked your home for the discount, pure and simple. Now they want an exception. Damn these guests, wanting their cake and eating it too, and ABB giving them all the forks they need. Be ready for ABB to ask you to consider a full refund, regardless of their “no refund” program.


I thought EC still overrides non-refundable bookings and that contracting COVID-19 is grounds for EC. Tell the guest to file an EC claim with Airbnb.

Whatever you do, do NOT refund a non-refundable booking. Let Airbnb handle any cancellation and request for refund. A host giving a refund for a non-refundable booking just sets the precedent that the guests can book the non-refundable option for a 10% discount with no risk to themselves. I personally think Airbnb should disable the ability for hosts to give refunds for non-refundable bookings before check-in. Otherwise, there’s really no point in having the non-refundable option.

So, what you’re saying is that the guest booked a non-refundable reservation, then within 48 hours, tells you that his traveling companion has COVID-19 and he wants a refund. That pretty much means they were waiting on test results. I’d say there’s a high probability that the story is a lie. You don’t have to be rude, just tell them about the EC policy and direct them to Airbnb to handle it.


Thank you for your reply. They booked many months ago.

I wonder if this counts. Regardless I expect Airbnb to override and give full refund if guest submits any documentation at all.

If he contacts Airbnb they will give him a full refund due to COVID19. I just had a guest cancel and despite having strict cancellation at the time he booked, they gave him a full refund. I wasn’t even notified by Airbnb. I had a booking request for those dates and that’s how I realized there was a cancellation. When I looked at the tab for cancelations, I saw he was given a full refund.

I would not reply at all. I would not tell them to “call Air and tell them about C-19”. There is no benefit to you and it risks some Air CS agent over-riding your policy, and we have been abused plenty.

The guest is an adult and chose the discount and the policy. And now gives you attitude? If they want to fight it and call mommy, let them figure it out.


I wonder how those people would feel if the host said to them, after they had booked and were planning on coming, “I changed my mind, I decided I can’t afford to offer a 10% discount, so you’ll have to pay the difference now”.


Oh, that’s rich. So it’s simply the case that the guest was willing to give up their ability to cancel for a 10% discount but is now upset that the host doesn’t just let them cancel with a full refund.

That’s exactly what I was thinking.

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This depends on if the travelling companion is actually named on the reservation. I had a guest who’s GF got sick and he wanted to cancel last minute. Air actually told the guest to add her to the reservation so she would be covered under EC . I would not approve the change and was paid for the reservation. I now actually have it in my house rules:

Our policy excludes accepting booking modifications please be certain of your plans when booking.



I would not reply any further. Cross your fingers that they do not call Air and say the magic words, “my traveling companion has Corona”. Apparently, no proof is needed (typical Air).

The problem is that ABB may issue full refund. So if you think you can get it rebooked and recoup some money, then the faster you open the calendar the quicker your chance to fill the dates again


I doubt it will be left up to you.

If they can document this, and maybe even if they can’t, Airbnb will refund the guest under the extenuating circumstances policy. The non-refundable option specifically allows guests to get a refund if it is an extenuating circumstance (illness, etc - even prior to Covid).

Exactly!!! If I had signed up for this “no cancellation” discount for my listing, there is no way I’d give any refund at all. I’m getting cancellation (permitted by Airbnb) for reservations that I, in good faith, have held for 5-6 months. The guest blames the cancellation on “Coronavirus”, and Airbnb gives them a 100% refund, and I’m left to try to fill the dates.


Yep. This. We are not travel insurance. No sympathy at all for an adult who chose to not comply with health requirements and got sick. Even in normal times, this happens. Not our problem.

They can eat the money, or bring a different friend.


I wonder if anyone has had the same situation as me. I have the non refundable option

My guests are staying for 6 days and said they would be 1 or 2 days late on arrival to cottage as they had to wait for medicine. I said that’s no problem the house is free for you until Friday. Monday came and they said they couldn’t make it due to wife being ill which I said you should contact ABB. ABB wanted to give them a full refund which I said no and now giving them half the refund as they have provided enough documentation for the extenuating circumstances.
I have no chance in filling in those empty days last minute as I had people coming in after they were due to leave.
So guests can cancel during a stay with the non refundable option and still either get a full refund or partial? That’s definitely not right in my opinion

@Neil_Macdiarmid Yep, the EC policy, if the guest can convince Airbnb their cancellation should be allowed under it, trumps the non-refundable. And the way Airbnb coddles guests, I’m sure guests have managed to get non-refundable bookings cancelled with full refund even without the EC.
The non-refundable policy is really of no benefit to hosts because of that. It sounded like a no-win for hosts from the time they introduced it.
Scrap it, would be my advice.

Thanks for the reply Muddy. I have only started renting out this year and wasn’t going to due to covid but thought I would give it a trail run before doing it fully for next year. Yeah hopefully the scrap it for next year or I’ll be looking for other option’s