Airbnb Changes Refund Policy As It No Longer Considers Covid Cancellations “Unplanned” | Tourism (Australia)

Vacationers affected by Covid closures and state border closures may not be eligible for refunds from booking company Airbnb, which no longer views pandemic cancellations as “unplanned.”

The change to Airbnb’s cancellation and refund policy, introduced in October last year, means that Covid is no longer considered a mitigating circumstance.

Customers affected by transportation disruptions and border closures related to the pandemic will be at the mercy of each host’s cancellation policies.

“After the declaration of Covid-19 as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, the mitigating circumstances policy no longer applies because Covid-19 and its consequences are no longer unforeseen or unexpected”, indicates Airbnb on its site Internet.

For Elizabeth Packett, who planned to come to Sydney to see the popular theater production Hamilton, it meant she was completely dependent on her host.

“It’s the luck of the draw whether or not you have a compassionate host for this sort of thing. It would be great if Airbnb supported that and you have that security, but I also guess that means you really have to read the fine print, ”Packett said.

“In a way, I kind of understand their point of view, in that every time we make travel plans now, we have to prepare for it to fall apart.”

Packett said the safety net provided by a more favorable Airbnb policy would encourage more people to book using the platform.

“That would be really helpful. I sort of equate the fact that when you want to return something that you bought online, they should make that process as easy as possible.

“I just think that in general people are going to book more if they are sure that if something like this happens at the last minute, they’re not going to be bothered.”

Packett luckily had an understanding host and was able to swap dates in November, but she never got a firm answer as to whether she could have gotten a refund.

“We would have liked a refund, we were right on top and didn’t want to risk coming back. But we just booked everything for November, it was easier than getting a refund.

Derek Nolan, Airbnb’s public policy manager for Australia and New Zealand, said most hosts offer flexible cancellation policies.

“For our guest community, hosts recognize they want flexibility in these uncertain times, and now almost two-thirds of active listings offer a moderate or flexible cancellation policy.”

“And with our flexible cancellation policy search filter, customers look for listings that offer free cancellation up to 24 hours before check-in, avoiding any strict cancellation policy listings from their search results. Customers can review their host’s cancellation policy before booking.

“We would like to thank our community for continuing to do their part to fight Covid-19. Our message has been consistent and clear: everyone should follow the government’s advice closely and strictly follow the rules. “

Jodi Bird, a travel expert at consumer advocacy group Choice, said the policy change was the company’s “rights”.

“It would be a positive development for the travel industry if a leading booking site like Airbnb set a higher standard for refunds, but Airbnb has the right not to extend its extenuating circumstances policy to unforeseeable travel bans. .

“When people book travel on Airbnb, we recommend that they check the ‘Show only stays with free cancellation’ filter.”

Packett isn’t sure her revamped trip for November will continue, but she hopes things will have stabilized by then.

“We are not convinced that will happen, we hope that more people will be vaccinated, so we have to hope. “

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