Fitness: Slow and steady wins the refund... and race!

Fitness: Slow and steady wins the refund... and race!

Trying to get a refund from Ireland’s favourite airline after a flight cancellation is like running a marathon. It takes months to achieve, it requires persistence, commitment, it causes family arguments and it’s bloody painful.

The Dublin Marathon was due to be five or six weeks away and thousands would normally be coming towards the end of training programmes for the first time around about now. But what does running your first marathon feel like?

The best I can do is compare it to my experience of dealing with the customer service department of Irelands favourite airline.

The anxiety tends to begin at the time of booking. The routes are checked and you’re raring to go, the preparations completed and plans and strategies are discussed with partners. You convince yourself it’s going to be ok, but inevitably something may go wrong.

At the start of either running a marathon or engaging with this airline in search of a refund; you know it’s going to hurt by the time it’s all over. You just don’t know by how much and the next day, you may be sore in places you’ve never been sore before.

The gentle encouragement of family and friends in the early stages of both events may be welcomed and is actually quite helpful. However, as events progress, exhaustion hits. Well-intentioned support may not be so well received. It may make you want to kill your support team as well as the customer service agent.

Things can progress very quickly. Puking and pooping on oneself during the process, possibly at the same time, are not beyond the realm of possibility.

The question ‘why the HELL did I get myself into this?’ will definitely be asked. You know people are going to ask how long it took to complete. If it’s a quick time, it will incite the envy of others. If it takes longer, your effort, endeavour and commitment will impress.

Any endurance athletes who have completed long distances have at some point ‘bonked’ or hit the wall.

‘Bonking’ describes the point at which the body’s glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are dwindling and the body starts to fatigue, making each step towards the finish line a vicious battle of mind over body. It’s painful, so painful — the legs feel heavy, the body weary, and the mind exhausted. You ask yourself to ‘just stop... stop... It’ll be grand. Just stop. Why am I doing this to myself?’

This wall is the Purgatory. It’s not a place, but a condition through which sometimes one has to travel to be purified and cleansed before finishing a marathon.

Coincidentally, it also accurately describes the experience of dealing with the customer services of the airline from which I was due a refund from Eight phonecalls, numerous unacknowledged, unanswered emails, and worst of all, my attempts to use the ‘Chatbot’.

But it’s coming, the finish line is just around the corner.

Sylvia, my most recent customer service agent, has assured me during one last 40 minute phone call that the funds will be reimbursed.

Just one last big push and it arrives, the emotions and the sheer weight of what has just happened hits home.

You look like a warmed corpse but a camera is shoved in your face and you try to smile for a picture that will be posted to Facebook in seconds.

You are handed confirmation that all the preparation, effort and support was worth it — a finisher’s tech t-shirt…. I mean a refund of course!

And everyone’s ready with the question, ‘when are you going again?’

‘Oh, I’ll never book with them again!’

… But we will!

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