August 14, 2019
Airbnb has taken the world by storm since its 2008 launch, providing travelers a more home-y and authentic experience at costs often lower than hotels.
While the user experience with Airbnb is generally regarded as seamless, one irritating problem has bothered some travelers: bed bugs.
A quick Google search of “Airbnb bed bugs” brings up pages and pages of reports of the discovery of reddish brown bug infestations or clustered itchy bites on the skin.
A CNET story published Tuesday about Airbnb’s problem included one woman's report of bed bugs at an Airbnb here in Philadelphia. (Perhaps this is no surprise since Philly topped one list of cities most infested by the pests.)
The woman, Dariele Blain, told CNET she found a bug crawling on the bed of a six-bedroom townhome she rented for a birthday party in July. She sent photos to Airbnb, which confirmed her suspicion that it was a bed bug, but the company said it could not relocate her 20-guest party to another Airbnb, to prevent spreading the bugs. Instead, the group was told to book a hotel, which Airbnb reimbursed – plus the original rental fee – within a few days, Blain said.
Blain told CNET:
"There's nothing in there [about] what to do if the house is not clean or if there's bedbugs. They need to be more proactive with stuff like that because it's a public health issue."
(This appears to be common protocol, as friends of mine had the same experience in Montreal and had to move to a hotel.)
While this is Airbnb's unofficial protocol, there is no official one. The company claims to handle bed bug cases on a case-by-case basis and, in one such instance, reportedly asked a renter to sign a nondisclosure after an incident.
Bed bugs are a type of insect that feed on human blood, usually during nighttime hours. While they do not transmit disease, their bites can result in skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, bed bugs are, indeed, a public health issue.
While hotels primarily have a handle on the little critters, no place is truly safe from an infestation.
The New York Times has an all-inclusive tip guide for to make sure you don't bring any bed bugs home with you. These tips include looking out for the telltale brown-black stains on sheets, mattresses and boxsprings, avoiding putting your luggage on the bed and use a lint roller to test luggage for bugs after travel.
And read the full story from CNET, "Bedbugs are giving Airbnb users headaches… and itchy bites."