Air passengers could see sweeping reforms and easier refunds. Consumer advocates and lawmakers say it’s still not enough.

From his office in Warsaw, Tomasz Pawliszyn, chief executive of a company called AirHelp, assists customers from more than 200 countries to obtain refunds from airlines for

delayed and canceled flights. The rules of compensation for disrupted flights are clear-cut for travelers from nearly every country, with a glaring exception: The United

States. “There are regulations that spell out what refunds and reimbursements passengers are entitled to in the EU, Brazil, Turkey, Canada, China, Israel, Indonesia... most

anywhere you can think of. But in the US there is no accountability,” Pawliszyn said. “We have a huge number of [European] customers who have flown in the US and experienced

delays and cancellations, and they are shocked at how difficult it is when they seek compensation or a refund.” But the United States could soon join the ranks of the other

countries with a proposed rule that would clearly spell out the circumstances under which passengers are entitled to compensation from airlines. After decades of

laissez-faire enforcement, the Department of Transportation is proposing changes to clarify the vague language airlines use to determine “significant delays,” potentially helping

passengers receive refunds or vouchers more efficiently. A passenger has to experience a “significant delay,” to receive a refund, but for years the definition has been in the eye

of the beholder or an airline representative.