As tourists seek refunds for upcoming Maui trips, Airbnb offers muddled response

In the wake of an unprecedented number of travel restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, tourists hoping to get refunds for upcoming trips to Maui have been met with conflicting and muddled responses from Airbnb, the popular home-sharing platform.

For those trips that haven’t already been canceled by Airbnb, customers have been encouraged to use the Instant Refunds feature in the Airbnb app and website, which automates refunds for fully preempted reservations and offers a partial refund for reservations whose dates have changed. However, the feature is limited to properties between certain dates and to those in Airbnb’s Partner Host network — meaning it only applies to a small number of properties on the island.

To further complicate matters, Airbnb has confirmed that only “covered coronavirus reservations” — meaning those made before March 12, 2020 — are eligible for refunds under the company’s Extenuating Circumstances policy.

As a result, many potential visitors to Maui have been left frustrated and confused by the ambiguity of Airbnb’s policies and procedures. To address this, Airbnb has pledged to improve its communications with customers and is partnered with local government to ensure a safe, responsible and equitable travel experience.