Because airlines are global, it is hard for any one country to regulate them, so they’ve long been governed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
The IATA is a self-governing body controlled by the airlines themselves.
In this case, who defends the consumer?
The IATA is supposed to do this, but their members are the airline companies. The IATA is essentially a cartel - with weird rules that seem to protect their own members’ interests more than that of the end consumers’.
An example of such a rule is:
Many airlines only allow refunds to the form of payment that was originally used.
What if your credit card expired in the interim?
Well… tough luck buddy!
The airline will tell you - “Don’t blame us - it’s industry regulation!” but in reality, the regulation is set by the industry participants themselves.
It’s an odd set-up that many people don’t realize.