As coronavirus spreads across the globe, the vacation rental company Airbnb expanded its extenuating circumstances policy, allowing almost all travelers to cancel their reservations penalty-free.
Now, most travelers who booked with the company will qualify for penalty-free refunds for bookings, and thousands of travelers are canceling their reservations and choosing to stay home.
Here's what you need to know about booking with Airbnb:
What is the extenuating circumstances policy?
Airbnb's reservations come with one of six cancellation policies set by the host, which range from flexible to super strict. These are set by the host.
The company can override those conditions with its Extenuating Circumstances Policy, and that's how many Covid-19-related cancellations may qualify for refunds.
When the Airbnb website recognizes that customers are traveling from or to certain affected areas, an automatic message is generated offering the chance to cancel without a penalty.
Even if travelers don't receive that automated message, they may still cancel their reservation and submit a request for a refund within 14 days of cancellation.
What areas are covered?
As President Trump's Schengen Area travel ban goes into effect, and confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the United States rise, Airbnb has made the area covered by the extenuating circumstances policy global.
All reservations made before March 14th, with check-in dates from March 14th through April 14th, qualify for penalty free cancellations. Both hosts and guests may choose to cancel the booking.
Airbnb experiences, where travelers can book tours, classes and workshops, are also covered by the new policy.
The sole exception is for domestic travel in mainland China. On April 1st, standard cancellation policies are back in effect there.