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COVID-19: Airbnb to make cancellations penalty-free, MakeMyTrip offers refunds on flight bookings to four countries

Airbnb yesterday expanded its “extenuating circumstances policy” allowing almost all travelers and hosts to cancel their reservations penalty-free. This policy applies to reservations on or before March 14 for check-in dates from a month hereon — till April 14 — across all countries and regions, except for domestic travel in mainland China.

Guests will receive a full refund, and will not face penalties; hosts can cancel without any impact on their ‘Superhost’ status. The company will refund all service fees for cancellations.

Airbnb’s reservations come with one of six cancellations policies set by the host, ranging from flexible to completely strict. The company can override these policies with its Extenuating Circumstances Policy, which it has activated now. The policy does not apply to Airbnb experiences, and the host’s cancellation policy will apply in these cases.

Meanwhile, MakeMyTrip is extending full refunds for flights bookings to “severely impacted regions” including China, Hong Kong, Italy, and South Korea. The company is:

  • Offering full refund in regions where airlines have cancelled flights.
  • Working with airlines to ensure that customers can change their flight dates without additional charge.
  • Refunding hotel bookings if it falls under the “free cancellation time period”
  • Allowing date change for domestic holiday packages for travel upto March 31, but no cancellation waivers.
  • Allowing date change for international holiday packages for travel upto April 30

Earlier this month, the Economic Times had reported that MakeMyTrip saw a slowdown in outbound bookings, and the number of cancellations increased.

Oyo Hotels will fire about 6,000 of its full-time staffers in China, the Financial Times reported earlier this month, “as problems with its business model are compounded by the country’s coronavirus outbreak”. Oyo said the layoffs were part of a “global restructuring plan” announced in January.

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As the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, the Indian government suspended all visas on March 11, effectively sealing its borders for at least a month. Every person arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15 will be quarantined for at least 14 days, the government said.

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