How to unblock an Airbnb account blocked due to COVID-19

Washington, DC skyline

Washington, DC skyline

Q: I made a reservation through Airbnb for a three day stay at a property in Washington, DC, last June. Prior to the stay, I contracted the COVID-19 virus and was unable to travel. Also, two of my travel companions were over 80 and could not travel either because they were part of a high risk group.

I contacted Airbnb and explained the circumstances. Fortunately, this fell within their extenuating circumstances policy. Airbnb allowed me to cancel the reservation and issued a credit of $ 1,687 to be used on a future stay. He also told me that they would temporarily lock out my account reservation ability due to my positive COVID test.

In early August, I decided to visit my sons in Arizona and tried to book a stay with my travel credit. I have discovered that my account is still locked and I am not able to make a reservation.

I tried calling Airbnb, but you can’t switch unless you have a reservation in progress. The automated system directs you to its online chat customer service agents for assistance.

It’s been three weeks since I contacted Airbnb. I have six open case requests with online customer service and one open case with their Twitter help support. All customer service reps tell me the same thing: “Please be patient, your call has been escalated for special treatment. My case has apparently been traced back to the “Trust and Security” department.

The problem, however, is that no one ever answers me. I made no progress. I just want Airbnb to open my account so I can use my credit. The company is effectively taking my money hostage. Please help if you can. – Paul Drews, Stillwater, Minnesota

A: It’s understandable that Airbnb locks your account after you tell them you have COVID-19. But the company should have helped you unlock your account instead of having you open seven new customer support cases.

Airbnb says it will “restrict” your account if you have COVID-19 “to help reduce the spread of infection.” Again, this makes sense. What makes less sense is how you get off the blacklist. Your Airbnb account remains limited until Airbnb receives a “valid confirmation that you are able to travel again,” in other words, good health.

That does not make sense. Most people recover from COVID-19 in two weeks or less, so locking out – I mean, restricting – your account for no more than 14 days seems reasonable. If someone like you calls months after the cancellation and tries to book a rental, common sense should prevail. Unfortunately, this is not the case in your case.

Writing on Airbnb was a good idea. Write over and over, maybe not. I recommend that you forward your correspondence to an Airbnb manager. I post the names, numbers and email addresses of key Airbnb officials on my consumer advocacy site at / airbnb-customer-service-contacts /.

I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. This unlocked your account.

Christopher Elliott is the Advocacy Manager for Elliott Advocacy, a non-profit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Contact him at or [email protected].

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