• Booking platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo let their hosts choose their refund policies.
  • Airbnb guests who contract COVID-19 are eligible for a refund or travel credit.
  • Vrbo guests will still need to comply with their host’s cancellation policy, even if they contract COVID-19

When Janice Shokrian discovered she and her family could spend two weeks in Europe for just $800 a person – airfare and lodging included – she jumped on the deal. 

The two-week trip, split between Airbnbs in Portugal and Spain, was supposed to be one of the last big family getaways with Shokrian and her two kids, ages 21 and 25. The family had been extremely cautious throughout the pandemic.

«We were the ones who washed our groceries, we were that family,» the Portland, Oregon, resident told USA TODAY. But Shokrian felt the two countries would be a safe bet since they had high vaccination rates. 

What Shokrian didn’t see coming was a new variant of concern.

«Omicron was our game changer,» she said. 

On Nov. 30, Shokrian decided to pull the plug on the family vacation. Not only was she worried about breakthrough cases among her family while abroad, but her son contracted COVID-19 and was supposed to be in quarantine on the first day of the trip. 

► European travel: Another popular European destination added to State Department’s ‘do not travel’ list 

► Which EU countries are open?: A breakdown of EU travel restrictions by country

Shokrian was able to get her money back easily with her Portugal booking, but her hosts in Spain only offered her a 50% refund.

«I did not realize that I need to look at cancellation policies for every Airbnb host,» she said.  

It took multiple phone calls with Airbnb and hours spent on hold, but Shokrian was able to get a full refund after explaining that her son had contracted COVID-19. But other travelers with last-minute cancellations aren’t so lucky.

Booking platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo let their hosts choose their refund policies, so even though the pandemic is still impacting travel – especially international trips – travelers should be aware that canceling a booking can be costly. 

Here are some tips for travelers who are looking to cancel their short-term rental booking. 

Relaxed refund policies for short term rentals are a thing of the past

While Airbnb and Vrbo introduced more flexible cancellation policies in the early days of the pandemic, both short-term rental platforms have since reverted to letting their hosts choose their refund policies.

Airbnb offers a total of nine cancellation policies, but the most common for short-term stays are:

  • Flexible: Guests can get a full refund on their nightly rate as long as they cancel 24 , hours before check in. Guests who cancel less than 24 hours before check in pay for one night, plus each night they stay at the property.
  • Moderate: Guests can get a full refund if they cancel at least five days before check in. If they cancel with less than…


Read More: How Airbnb, Vrbo users can get refunds for last-minute cancellations

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