Removing COVID-19 as an extenuating circumstance
- For bookings made starting May 31, 2022, COVID-19–related illness will no longer be covered under the extenuating circumstances policy
If a guest is sick with COVID-19, the Host’s cancellation policy will apply
During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, we worked to help accommodate the immediate needs of our community. Our extenuating circumstances policy allowed guests and Hosts to receive a full refund if they canceled a booking because they were sick with COVID-19.
We heard your feedback that this approach led to an increase in unpredictability and last-minute cancellations. This was especially painful for Hosts during peak travel seasons, when last-minute cancellations can have an elevated impact.
Now that COVID-19 is a known part of our world, many countries have moved to a new stage in their response, and we’ve updated our approach to COVID-19–related cancellations in consultation with medical advisors.
For bookings made on or after May 31, 2022, having COVID-19 will no longer be considered an extenuating circumstance (except for domestic reservations in South Korea and mainland China). If a guest cancels their booking because they’re sick with COVID-19, the Host’s cancellation policy will apply.
We hope this change allows Hosts to feel more secure as they fill their calendars, especially ahead of peak seasons. For more details on what this change means, here are answers to some common Host questions.
Frequently asked questions
1. What is the extenuating circumstances policy?
The extenuating circumstances policy applies when unforeseen events, such as natural disasters or public health emergencies, make it impossible or illegal to complete a booking. Hosts and guests affected by an event covered by this policy may be eligible to cancel their reservation without adverse consequences.
2. What’s changing?
The extenuating circumstances policy is meant to cover unforeseeable circumstances, but COVID-19 is now a known part of our world. For any booking made on or after May 31, 2022, being sick with COVID-19 will no longer be considered an extenuating circumstance.*
This means that guests will no longer be able to receive a full refund if they cancel a booking because they have COVID-19, unless allowed by your cancellation policy. We hope this change helps you feel more at ease as you plan your calendars.For bookings made before May 31, 2022, certain COVID-19-related circumstances will continue to be covered.
3. Which countries does this change apply to?
This change applies globally, except for domestic reservations in mainland China and South Korea. For domestic reservations in South Korea, the COVID-19–related circumstances described in our policy will continue to be covered. Different policies apply for domestic reservations in mainland China.
4. What does this change mean for Hosts?
Most Hosts will likely either see no changes or fewer last-minute cancellations that are covered by the extenuating circumstances policy. However, this change could affect Hosts of private rooms who become ill with COVID-19.
5. I’m a private room Host. What if my guest says they have COVID-19, and wants to travel anyway—and I don’t feel safe hosting them? Can I cancel?
Yes. If the guest doesn’t want to cancel and you feel unsafe, then you can contact Community Support to cancel the booking. You won’t receive a payout, but there won’t be additional consequences for canceling.
6. What does this change mean for guests?
For bookings made on or after May 31, 2022, guests who get sick with COVID-19 will be held to your cancellation policy.* If guests are concerned about the possibility of having to cancel a trip due to COVID-19, they can consider choosing stays with a flexible cancellation policy or purchasing travel insurance.
7. What if I want to help my guest out and offer them a refund beyond what’s covered by my cancellation policy?
For bookings made on or after May 31, 2022, your current cancellation policy will apply. But if your guest is sick with COVID-19 and you’d like to help refund them or otherwise work with them on a flexible solution, you’re welcome to do so.
Hosts who want to refund their guests beyond what’s offered in their cancellation policy can do so via the Resolution Center after the guest cancels. You can also consider giving your guests the option to cancel and rebook for a different date. If you’re interested in offering future guests more flexibility and peace-of-mind, consider switching to a flexible cancellation policy.
8. If a guest booked their stay before May 31, 2022, what policy would apply?
For stays booked before May 31, 2022, guests who are sick with COVID-19 would still be able to cancel for a full refund. They’d be asked to provide supporting documentation (such as proof of a positive COVID-19 test result), where legally allowed.
9. If a guest books their stay on or after May 31, 2022, what policy would apply?
The Host’s cancellation policy would apply. Guests who cancel because they are sick with COVID-19 would not be covered under the extenuating circumstances policy.*
10. What about other COVID-19–related travel disruptions? Are those covered by the extenuating circumstances policy?
No. Although the COVID-19 pandemic may continue to trigger events like border closures or shelter-in-place requirements, these are no longer considered unforeseen in 2022. Different policies apply for domestic reservations in mainland China.
11. What kinds of events are still covered by the extenuating circumstances policy?
Unforeseen events (for example, large-scale natural disasters or acts of war) are covered by the extenuating circumstances policy.
Learn more about the extenuating circumstances policy and COVID-19
*Excluding domestic reservations in South Korea & mainland China.
Information contained in this article may have changed since publication.
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