How to unlock an Airbnb account locked because of COVID-19

When Paul Drews tells Airbnb that he has COVID-19, it locks his account. Now the company won’t unlock it. Is there a way to get his account back?

  • Sunday, January 24, 2021 1:30am
  • Life

Q: I had a reservation through Airbnb for a three-day stay at a property in Washington, D.C., this past June. Before the stay, I contracted the COVID-19 virus and was unable to travel. In addition, two of my travel companions were in their early 80s and also unable to travel because they were in a high-risk group.

I contacted Airbnb and explained the circumstances. Fortunately, this fell under their extenuating circumstances policy. Airbnb allowed me to cancel the reservation and issued a $1,687 credit to be used during a future stay. It also told me that they would be temporarily locking my account reservation ability due to my positive COVID test.

In early August, I decided I wanted to go visit my sons in Arizona and tried to book a stay using my travel credit. I discovered my account was still locked, and I’m unable to make any reservations.

I tried calling Airbnb, but you can’t get through unless you have a current reservation. The automated system directs you to its online chat customer service agents for assistance.

It’s been three weeks since I contacted Airbnb. I have six open case requests with the online customer service department and one open case with their Twitter help support. All of the customer service reps tell me the same thing: “Please be patient, your call has been escalated for special handling.” My case has apparently been escalated to Airbnb’s Trust and Safety department.

The issue, however, is no one ever gets back to me. I’ve made zero progress. I just want Airbnb to open my account up so I can use my credit. The company is effectively holding my money hostage. Please help if you can.

— Paul Drews, Stillwater, Minnesota

A: It’s understandable that Airbnb would lock your account after you told it you had COVID-19. But the company should have helped you unlock your account instead of making you open seven new customer support cases.

Airbnb says it will “restrict” your account if you have COVID-19 “to help reduce the spread of infection.” Again, that makes sense. What makes less sense is how you get off the blacklist. Your Airbnb account stays restricted until Airbnb receives “valid confirmation that you’re able to travel again” — in other words, a clean bill of health.

That doesn’t make sense. Most people recover from COVID-19 in two weeks or less, so locking — I mean, restricting — your account for no more than 14 days seems reasonable. If someone like you calls months after cancellation and tries to book a rental, common sense should prevail. Unfortunately, it did not in your case.

Writing to Airbnb was a good idea. Writing to it repeatedly, maybe not. I’d recommend forwarding your correspondence to an executive at Airbnb. I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of key Airbnb managers on my consumer advocacy site at

I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. It unlocked your account.

Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Contact him at or

Talk to us

More in Life

Marriage basics: How to resolve your relationship conflicts

The top five sources of conflict in relationships? Sex, money, children, in-laws and household chores.

Wintergreen adds a pop of red to the garden all winter long. (Getty Images)
Though they’re cold, fall and winter can be colorful seasons too

You have no shortage of choices when it comes to planting for fall and winter interest in the garden.

Ginkgo biloba "Autumn Gold" features brilliant fall color and scalloped leaves similar to those of maidenhair ferns. (Great Plant Picks)
Great Plant Pick: Ginkgo biloba ‘Autumn Gold’ aka maidenhair tree

This tree features brilliant fall color and scalloped leaves similar to those of maidenhair ferns.

Anthony Brock Group performs during the soft opening of Black Lab Gallery in it's new location Friday night in Everett on October 9, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett’s music and art hotspot upgrades to a much larger space

Black Lab Gallery moves a block up Hewitt Avenue, and the new Lucky Dime takes over its former location.

Catapult, the dance company best known for their time on “America’s Got Talent,” will perform on Oct. 23 in Edmonds. (Catapult)
Catapult troupe sculpts shadow illusions with their bodies

You can see the dance company of “America’s Got Talent” fame at two shows in Edmonds on Oct. 23.

The Camano Wildlife Habitat Project will present an “Attracting Birds to your Yard” webinar on Oct. 20 via Zoom. (Mike Benbow)
Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

Home and garden events and resources around Snohomish County

This silhouette of a woman, cut by mouth by Martha Ann Honeywell, had an estimated value of $400 to $800 at Garth's Auction, Inc., but did not sell. (Cowles Syndicate Inc.)
Circa 1800 silhouette of woman in a bonnet was ‘cut by mouth’

Born without hands, Martha Ann Honeywell (1786-1856) could cut and paste, thread a needle, embroider and write using her mouth.

Natick, MA. - February 24: Antonio Loffa of Natick gets his COVID-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination site at the Natick Mall on February 24, 2021 in Natick, Massachusetts. POOL PHOTO  (Staff Photo By Matt Stone/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)
Doctor clears up common misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines

1. Breakthrough COVID-19 infections don’t mean the vaccines have failed. 2. The shots aren’t a one-and-done solution.

fresh fruits background
‘C’ is for citrus — and that’s good enough for everybody

Among other good things, Vitamin C strengthens saggy skin. Just make sure you get in the form of fresh fruit, not pills.

Most Read