Check in times

Level 1
York, United Kingdom

Check in times

Hi community 


I recently had an incident with a guest and want some guidance on how to deal with the issue should it arise again! 


I am a relitively new host with 5* reviews from every guest so far. I go out of my way to work with my guests on a flexible check in/out system. I agree a time for check in and as a general rule operate a noon check out time unless I have worked with a guest who needs a different time. 


I just had a guest who requested a check in time of 2pm which was fine on my end. I waited for the group who texted me at 2.15pm and said they had decided to "go and get food before we come over. Expect us just after 3".....This really angered me as it messed up my own plans etc. and they were not late due to an unforeseen circumstance such as traffic issues or train delays, they simply decided to just be an hour later than agreed. Turns out all in all they were 1 hour 15 minutes late for their check in time and they hounded me to leave my keys under a bin outside or meet them in town to hand over my keys...Which I obviously did not want to do!


How long should I allow guests to be late in this situation? Had it been a circumstance out of their control I would not have minded at all but because they just decided to be late I was really frustrated...
I am a host who prides herself on being super flexible and accommodating but in this situation the lack of respect from the group was a really negative experience. 


I have a guest coming tomorrow who so far has not responded to two emails which I send out in order to confirm final details, exchange contact info etc. How long do I wait after their agreed check in time? 

Do I have to wait until the 3pm check in time that AirBnb stipulate? 


Thanks in advance


16 Replies 16
Level 10
Como, CO

Compared to some stories I have read on here that seems quite mild.


I would suggest you foirm up what you will do, you will be taken advantage of otherwise.


I know it is a mild incident but I want to avoid having escalations of the same issue in the future hence the post to see how others have dealt with similar problems.


I don't know what is the right thing to do and what is the wrong thing.  


Can I operate on the basis of if you are late by more than 90 minutes (for example) without a valid reason your stay is cancelled?


I am not willing to spend my entire day waiting in for guests to arrive who just decide on a whim to be later than check in times they have requested. 


Perhaps I should just have a rule of one specific check in time....

What would you suggest? 

Sounds very harsh to cancel the stay of late guests. Why not ask them for an approximate time in advance, and then to confirm when they plan to arrive on the day itself?

I say this to guests on booking:

''Let me know when you plan to arrive, and if the time changes keep me posted as I may not be at the house otherwise.''


Most guests tell me their plans in advance, and then on the day they send a text telling me exactly. Have never had any problems, though some are later than others as they may be getting lunch or whatever. They are on holiday!

I am not prepared to spend my day waiting for guests who decide they do not want to stick to pre-arranged times that they have requested. I also have to make my own arrangements for accommodation when I host guests and often use AirBnb to take trips to other cities etc. Obviously I allow extra time for things to happen such as unforeseen circumstances etc. but to blatantly just be late because you decide to be is another matter in my opinion. 


I am very flexible and work with every guest to find a time that works for them and their travel arrangements both on check in and out. This is something I am praised for in every review we have had to date. This particualr group sent me a message after already being 15 minutes late and then proceeded to be another hour late. They hassled me to leave my keys under a bin outside of my property. They asked me to meet them in the town centre to hand over my keys on the street. I live in a communal building and I enjoy meeting guests at the property, giving them the run down of the place and then leaving having provided them with the necessary information. 


I was unsure what my rights were as host at that point. I honestly did not want them to stay due to their attitude toward me when I refused to leave my keys outside for them. 


If they would have let me know earlier in the day they were going to arrive a little later that would have been fine. I certainly did not appreciate the way in which they spoke to me regarding leaving my keys in an unsafe place likewise when I asked them for an updated arrival time their expectation was for me to wait in for them till they were ready to arrive. Surely this goes against the whole point of having a check in time?


I do not want to be a host that stipulates what time you can and cannot arrive, which is the whole basis of my post. What is the best way to address this to prevent it from being an issue in the future? 

I guess when it comes down to it, it is a numbers game. Most people will be fine and not an issue but inevitably you will come up against this issue from time to time.


Personally I like the 'if you can not make the agreed time please let me know asap as it will take one/two whatever hours for me to reaarange'. Or a variant thereone depending on your situation.


I just installed a lock box with a code that allows guests to let themselves in if they arrive late. My last guest was supposed to arrive around 2:30 pm and did not get in until 9pm, without a call. (I texted her at 5pm to find out what eas going on as I did have plans...)

Now I say in my welcoming email that I will be happy to meet them at an agreed upon time...if they are late, to please let me know, and I give the code

to the lockbox . (Easily changeable). 

Level 2
Morro Bay, CA

Have you considered a lock box? Or even a code door lock? Then you can remain flexible and feel safe. I'm in the US and it's a tax write off for us.

We have considered one however we are unable to put anything on the exterior of the building as it a listed property here in the UK. 


Such a shame because it would be a great tool for us to use! 

Your guests sound very rude and selfish - they should have let you know about the late check in at least an hour beforehand, not when they knew that you were already at the house waiting for them. They could easily have checked in and then had their meal after.

Luckily most people are more considerate than this.  You could mention it in your review perhaps, which would at least make you feel better and warn other hosts that they are selfish.

Level 10
Thomaston, GA

Hi William - I agree with David - you have to do what's comfortable and acceptable for you and force your guests to comply.  One thing you might try that I've used is emailing the guest the night before the arrival date and ask for their checkin time.  If they don't respond or if they respond and are vague, reply and tell them something like:  if you arrive and no one is here, please text me and I will be there within an hour (or something similar).  Usually they will come right back with a time as they will not want to wait an hour to get in their space.  That won't solve all of these type issues but it will let them know that you set the time and aren't waiting around at their convenience.  Best regards, Roger

Level 10
Memphis, TN

I'm so glad I don't have that problem! I may have a unique circumstance, idk, but I leave a key for my guests. It doesn't matter what time they get there. As long as it's after 2pm, it could be 3am. No matter at all. If I'm home, I let them in. If not, they get the key & let selves in. I'm able to do this because I live in a safe place & am not afraid of the wrong person finding the key, nor of the guests themselves. They're coming in anyway, so why not just let them come in?

I have to agree with you, guests who show up exceptionally later than their scheduled arrival time do cause problems at times. We've been considering opening a second Airbnb about 15 minutes away and have had this discussion several times because I personally like to greet the guests on arrival but arrival times change constantly as guests travel and I don't want to be sitting over their waiting for hours on end for late arrivals.


The day before a guest arrives we send a message with last minute instructions, request an estimated arrival time and also request that they text us 15 minutes prior to arrival. Most guests happily comply although we have had a few people just show up.


I consider this aspect as simply being part of my job as a host. Cancelling a guest will incur harsh penalties.

Level 2
Fraser, CO

I have been having people say they would be here & then be 4 or 5 HOURS late - ugh!!!! I just changed my check in policy.

Today's people are going to lunch, then coming over. Last week, they just took their time I guess & she is a aBNB host.

We work so hard to give them a perfect stay & then this. I now changed my check in time to 4 to 10 as I am home then usually.


Level 2
Seattle, WA

I have this exact problem all the time, unfortunately. My listing very clearly states the window for check-in (more than once), and before I confirm a reservation I will make sure that the guest intends to arrive within that window. A day or two prior to arrival, I send a message to arrange a specific time within that window when I will meet them. I always make sure to mention that the purpose of nailing down a specific time is to "make sure I'm home." A lock box won't work for me - I have to be available to meet guests and show them how to find my building because my address is in a pedestrian-only area and doesn't work in GPS. I've been hosting for 2 years now, and more times than I can count, I'm sitting around waiting for people who clearly feel like their time is more valuable than mine. It is extremely off-putting and it's so difficult to remain gracious when someone is blatantly disrespectful right out of the gate. It's one thing when there is a flight delay or traffic, but many times after waiting 30-45 minutes past the pre-arranged check-in time, I'll message a guest asking how much longer they'll be and I'll get a response like, "Oh, sorry, I stopped to meet friends for lunch. We'll be done shortly." One guest did this to me on Valentine's Day last year - kept me waiting for 2 hours, and my boyfriend and I almost lost our dinner reservation. I can't remember whether I mentioned anything in the public review, but I definitely said something in the private review. I'm not a 24-hour concierge service. I'm a person with a job and a life and plans, and I have neither the time nor the desire to sit around my house all day waiting for people.


Last week, I had guests who booked a one night stay several weeks in advance. Two days before their arrival, I messaged them to provide directions to the meeting spot and to set a specific time to meet. I did not get a response, so I wrote again the following day. Again no response. Apparently, they were traveling in a remote location with no internet or cell service in the days leading up to their stay, but didn't think that would be important to mention at the time of booking. I finally got a response around 12-1pm on their arrival date. They were very wishy-washy about setting an exact check-in time, but said they were shooting for something around 3-4pm. I reminded them that, as stated in the listing, the earliest I can do check-ins on weekdays is 4pm, and that I would meet them at 4 unless they would prefer a later time. I did not get a response, so I left work early, at 2:30, to go home and clean up after the previous guest who had left at noon that day. Shortly after I got home, I received a message informing me that they were still on an island about an hour and a half away (longer with traffic, and rush hour gets going around 3-3:30pm). It did not even say they had any intention of leaving soon - just that they were still there. I requested an updated arrival time, which clearly irritated them. I was told, "We are not on any set schedule (we're on vacation!)" I don't think I've ever had any guest rub their sense of entitlement in my face quite so bluntly before. I was livid. I am not on vacation, unfortunately, and like most people who do not work from home, I am, in fact, on a set schedule. I made it clear that I was under the impression that they had wanted a 4pm check-in, and planned the rest of my day based on that. They ended up being only 45 minutes late because they went straight to the ferry after our exchange, but who knows when they would have casually sauntered over otherwise. I did my best to remain upbeat and hospitable, but every communication I received from them had a very demanding tone, and I was never once thanked for dropping whatever I was doing to respond promptly with whatever recommendations they were looking for (info that could have easily been gleaned from my extremely thorough Guidebook). I felt badly that they felt rushed to check-in, and allowed them to stay 3 hours past check-out until they were ready to go to the airport. Again, zero acknowledgment or thanks. They were clean and respectful of my space, and were nice enough in the few minutes I spent with them in person, but I felt that they were not at all respectful of my time, and the communication (or lack thereof) left much to be desired. I have yet to leave a review because I hate saying anything negative; I get the feeling they are nice people - just incredibly self-absorbed and oblivious, I suppose, for people who were not new to Airbnb. They have not yet left a review, either, and I hope that they don't because I have a bad feeling about it. But I don't feel like I did anything to deserve a bad review.


Anyway, sorry for the incredibly long post and thanks for reading. I guess I just really needed to vent after seeing the original post in this thread. Apologies to the original poster for not really having any useful advice on the matter; I think at the end of the day, some guests are gracious people and some are selfish people, and that's the kind of people they were before they came across your listing. So long as you are polite and informative regarding your rules, there's really nothing else you can do about people who clearly weren't raised right, except to do your best to weed them out prior to confirming a reservation. But at least you know you are not alone in your frustration. Best wishes, all.