Millions of commuters were braced for problems on their journey home after heavy snow caused delays on planes, trains and roads across Britain on Thursday.

It is said to be the most widespread disruption in more than a decade.

While the cold snap gave many children a surprise day off in the snow, passengers at several airports endured long waits as workers struggled to clear runways.

Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Luton and Stansted were closed for part of the day because the wintry showers made it too dangerous for planes to take off or land.

The Met Office said many areas received 5 to 10 cm of snow, although the snowfall eased during the day.

Stansted Airport, northeast of London was among the worst affected.

"Nearly 100 flights were cancelled," a Stansted spokeswoman said. "The runway has reopened but there is going to be a knock-on effect."

A Luton airport spokesman said delays and cancellations would continue all day.

At Heathrow, 86 flights were cancelled, although the airport and its runways remained opened. Many flights were cancelled at London City Airport.

There were also cancellations and delays at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports.

The Highways Agency (HA) warned drivers that roads could become treacherous overnight and advised them not to travel unless their journey was essential.

"If possible, delay your journey until conditions improve," a spokesman said. "If you must travel, you should carry warm clothing and an emergency pack in your car."

The agency had put 400 salt-spreading vehicles on standby and motorways and major roads were treated before the snow arrived.

Birmingham City Council said all its schools were closed due to the travel disruption. Dozens more were shut in Bristol, Cheshire, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Staffordshire and an estimated total of 2000 nationwide.

Network Rail said the disruption was "minimal", although there were cancellations and delays across the southeast and on services run by Virgin West Coast, Virgin Cross Country, Chiltern and Central Trains.

Severe delays hit the London Underground system, with the Bakerloo, Jubilee and Metropolitan lines among the worst affected.

The Met office said the snow will ease in the south later on Thursday, although parts of Wales and northern England could see more flurries on Friday.

But temperatures will plummet overnight to as low as minus 4 degrees Celsius, bringing the risk of icy roads and freezing fog. The snow could return by the weekend.