A Bury St Edmunds widow was left stranded at Birmingham Airport with her two children after the flight she had booked to visit her late husband’s family turned out to be overbooked. 

With the anniversary of her husband’s death approaching, Chantal Beeston, had hoped to spend Easter in Spain with her two daughters, three and six. 

She was hoping to spend time with her late husband’s sister and their nephews. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Beatrix, Heidi and their 3 cousins who we should have been visiting in Spain.Beatrix, Heidi and their 3 cousins who we should have been visiting in Spain. (Image: Chantal Beeston)

“We have had the worst year,” said Mrs Beeston. “Family is just so important to us right now.” 

Ben Beeston died suddenly from a cardiac arrest in May last year. The family had been living in Dubai, where Ben, 39, was a teacher at a Dubai-British primary school. 

Following Ben’s death, Mrs Beeston returned to Bury St Edmunds with her daughters, Beatrix and Heidi. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Ben Beeston died at the age of 39. Ben Beeston died at the age of 39. (Image: Chantal Beeston)

Mrs Beeston had booked a flight to Barcelona leaving from Birmingham Airport on Monday, April 3.

The flight was with the Spanish airline Vueling, a codeshare flight with British Airlines. 

The family arrived at the airport three hours early to check in – only to be told that the flight was overbooked and they would not be able to board.

Mrs Beeston was told that she would need to come back an hour later, while the other passengers checked in. 

However, an hour later, she was again told that it was unlikely her family would be able to board the flight. 

“They said, the only way of us knowing is to check you in, take your bags and car seats and for you to go to the gate. Only then will we know for sure,” explained Mrs Beeston. 

“I said, if we aren’t going to be getting on this flight, this is getting ridiculous.” 

However, staff were adamant that this was the best course of action, and so she took her children through security – only to again be told that the flight was fully booked, at which point her daughters were “inconsolable”. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Beatrix and Heidi waiting at Birmingham airportBeatrix and Heidi waiting at Birmingham airport (Image: Chantal Beeston)

Mrs Beeston and her children made their way back through border control to the baggage area, where it quickly became apparent that one of their car seats was still on the plane – which had just departed for Barcelona. 

“At this point, we were effectively stranded in the airport,” said Mrs Beeston. Her children were bitterly disappointed, tired and hungry, having been in the airport for hours.  

Mrs Beeston was told that she would have to contact Vueling’s customer services herself. She asked to speak to a supervisor, who told her that it would not be possible for her to board a flight until at least the next day. 

Mrs Beeston's father-in-law came to collect the family, as he had a spare car seat, and they returned home to Bury St Edmunds.

She has booked another flight to Spain with a different airline, but is upset that her family has been put through this experience. 

“It goes far deeper than us having missed out on our holiday,” she said. “No child should have to go through what they have.  

“My girls don’t deserve any extra sadness or unfairness.” 

Vueling has said it has looked into the issue and made contact with Mrs Beeston about the refund and clarify the situation.

The company said the aircraft had to be changed that same morning which led to an overbooking scenario.

It said the customer and two children were offered hotel accommodation and a flight for the next day however they did not accept this and opted for a refund, which would need to go via British Airways.