Although conditions were gradually clearing today, the disruption caused by fog to flights between Britain and Northern Ireland has meant it has been a rotten start to the Christmas holidays for many homebound travellers.
As a result of the cancellation of a number of flights and the severe delays imposed on others, many passengers have faced a frustrating wait at an airport terminal instead of arriving home as scheduled to be reunited with friends and family.
In the worst cases, passengers whose late night flights were cancelled were forced to bed down at an airport or spend a night in a hotel at their own expense. Others have had to transfer by rail or road to other airports. The upshot is that the glamour of air travel is wearing thin.
Although there are exceptions, passengers and frontline staff deserve credit for forbearance in the most trying of circumstances. At this time of year every minute counts and the flight delays have simply added to the pre-Christmas tension.
The only compensation is that the way the calendar falls this year means that most passengers should reach their destinations in time for Christmas Day. The coming weekend should enable the airlines to make up for lost time, at least as regards short-haul flights.
That said, it seems incredible that a few days of fog can cause such widespread disruption to flights. Once again, Mother Nature has reminded the travelling public that despite the advances of technology, fog and frost can still cause problems.
Although modern aircraft are equipped to deploy automatic landing, and can operate in all weather conditions, air traffic congestion has caused delays and cancellations.
Safety must always be the paramount concern but the net result has been a reduction in the number of flights landing and taking off at several key airports such as Heathrow. Long-haul services are given priority, which means that regional services suffer from a backlog.
While nobody can blame airlines or airports for the unexpectedly bad weather, lessons must be learnt from this unhappy episode. Many passengers have complained about a lack of information, and this is an issue that must be addressed with urgency.
In some cases, travellers who checked before leaving home that their flight was operating found when they arrived at check-in that it had been cancelled. Although fog lifts and falls, meaning that conditions change quickly, it is vital that passengers are kept in the picture.
Airlines may be at the mercy of the weather but they cannot absolve themselves of their responsibilities to their passengers. Compensating passengers who were put to extra expense would be a welcome gesture at this Christmas season.