An estimated 20,000 airline passengers have had their flights to and from UK airports cancelled because of freezing fog.

On Monday night Manchester airport, Britain’s third-biggest, saw dozens of cancellations, particularly on Flybe. Services to Exeter, Southampton, Belfast, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh were among those grounded.

“Blackfish Girl” tweeted: “After 7 hours at the airport am now flying from a different airport tomorrow afternoon. Staff at counter were lovely but the the whole organisation by @flybe was just atrocious.”

Some Ryanair and easyJet flights were heavily delayed or cancelled. Loganair’s link from Manchester to Inverness was axed, with some passengers travelling by bus instead. Their estimated arrival time was 4.30am, more than seven hours late.

At Heathrow, British Airways pro-actively grounded more than 80 domestic and European flights, as well as a handful at Gatwick and London City. But during the day, with delays building, several more were cancelled, including round-trips to Rome and Warsaw. 

Departures on Aer Lingus to Dublin and Shannon, Flybe to Edinburgh, Lufthansa to Frankfurt and Munich, SAS to Copenhagen and Stavanger, Eurowings to Stuttgart and KLM to Amsterdam were also cancelled.

The airline said: “We agreed in advance with Heathrow airport, air traffic control and other airlines to slightly reduce our short haul schedules.”

“We recommend that all customers check their flight is operating before travelling to the airport. We are very sorry for the disruption to our customers’ journeys at this important time of year.”

Passengers on BA due to fly to or from European destinations on Tuesday are able to rebook up to and including Friday 22 December, even if their flight is shown as operating normally.