Help! My Airbnb host canceled my reservation, and now I have to pay $1,300 more

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By Christopher Elliott

When Curtis Rahman’s Airbnb host cancels his reservation a day before his arrival, he tries to find a substitute apartment. But the new property is smaller and costs more. Is a $200 credit enough to make up for the trouble?


I recently reserved a two-bedroom apartment in Washington, D.C., through Airbnb. My host canceled our reservation within 24 hours of my arrival. 

Airbnb sent me substitute listings, but all of them were much more expensive and smaller than the one we had booked. 

I quickly chose a one-bedroom apartment that cost $1,300 more. Airbnb offered me a $200 coupon for a future booking. That’s it. They won’t even talk to me.

I think Airbnb should cover the $1,300 difference from the original booking. Our original booking was one block from where we needed to be. Our new location is 1.1 miles away, which means we also have travel expenses that we wouldn’t have had before. Can you help? — Curtis Rahman, Saint Louis Park, Minn.


Your host shouldn’t have canceled your reservation so close to your arrival. If a host cancels, Airbnb promises a full refund, according to its Rebooking and Refund Policy. And if a host cancels a month or less before your check-in, and you contact Airbnb, it promises to “assist” you with finding comparable or better accommodations.

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

In other words, it’s up to Airbnb to decide how much of your new accommodations it will cover. Interestingly, it recently changed its rebooking policy to remove language that required hosts to cover the extra expense of rebooking. (Airbnb says it never enforced that rule.)

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That leaves you in a gray area for getting your refund. When you rented the new place, I think you could have asked Airbnb to pay for it. If it agreed, you should have asked for that promise in writing. 

Instead, it looks as if Airbnb believed you asked for your money back. “Unfortunately your host needed to cancel the reservation to unforeseen extenuating circumstances,” a representative wrote to you in an email. “In compliance with our terms of service, we provided you with a full refund plus a coupon for the value of $200.” (Related: What to do if you find roaches in your Airbnb rental.)

I think you may have gotten your wires crossed with Airbnb. The misunderstanding continued as you asked for a supervisor but just found yourself talking to another customer service representative. Worse, you didn’t even see the $200 coupon, and by the time you did, you had already booked a new apartment and the coupon was a few weeks away from expiring. (Here’s what you need to know before you book your next vacation rental.)

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

I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. A representative contacted you a few hours later. “Kindly accept my sincere apologies for the experience you had to witness with Airbnb,” he said. “This is definitely not the type of service and experience we would ever want our user to go through. Airbnb provided you with a full refund of the $1,300 and another $200 coupon that expires within a year.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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