The Airbnb host canceled, and now I have to pay an extra $1,300

Q I recently booked a two bedroom apartment in Washington, DC through Airbnb. My host canceled our reservation within 24 hours of my arrival. Airbnb sent me replacement listings, but all were much more expensive and smaller than the one we booked. I quickly chose a one bedroom apartment which was $1300 more. Airbnb gave me a $200 coupon for a future booking. That’s it. They won’t even talk to me.

I think Airbnb should cover the $1300 difference from the original booking. Our original reservation was one block away from where we needed to be. Our new location is 1.8 km away, which means we also have travel expenses that we would not have had before. Can you help ?

CURTIS RAHMAN, St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

A. If a host cancels, Airbnb promises a full refund, in accordance with its rebooking and refund policy. And if a host cancels a month or less before your arrival and you contact Airbnb, they promise to “help” you find comparable or better accommodation.

But here’s where things get a little fuzzy. Airbnb says that as part of rebooking assistance, it may — but is not obligated to — pay or contribute to the cost of new accommodations. “We may also offer customers the option of applying the value of a canceled reservation to new accommodations or receiving a travel credit in lieu of a cash refund,” as stated in the policy.

In other words, it’s up to Airbnb to decide how much of your new listings it will cover. Interestingly, it recently changed its rebooking policy to remove language that required hosts to cover additional rebooking fees. This leaves you in a gray area to get your refund. When you rented the new place, I think you could have asked Airbnb to pay for it. If he agreed, you should have asked for this promise in writing.

Instead, it looks like Airbnb believed you asked for your money back. “Unfortunately, your host had to cancel the reservation due to unforeseen extenuating circumstances,” a rep wrote to you in an email. “As per our terms of service, we have provided you with a full refund plus a coupon worth $200.”

I think you may have crossed your threads with Airbnb. The misunderstanding continued when you asked for a supervisor, but ended up talking to another customer service rep. Worse still, you didn’t even see the $200 coupon, and by the time you saw it, you had already booked a new apartment and the coupon was weeks away from expiration.

In a situation like this, you can reach out to one of the Airbnb executive contacts I list on my consumer website at

I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. A representative contacted you a few hours later. Airbnb has refunded you the full $1,300 and another $200 coupon that expires within the year.

Christopher Elliott is the Advocacy Director of Elliott Advocacy, a non-profit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Elliott’s latest book is “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Contact him at Where [email protected].

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