The title of this episode is a reference to the Airport series of movies, which were in turn parodied by the movie Airplane!. Numerous references to the latter, including the musical score, many visual images, the noise of the aircraft in flight, and the cameo scene of Hugh Hefner giving Quagmire a pep talk, a parody of Leslie Nielsen’s pep talk from Airplane!, complete with the “Notre Dame Victory March” playing in the background. This was, in turn, a reference to the famous Gipper Speech from the 1940 film Knute Rockne, All American. This scene is also a reference to the scene in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story where Lance Armstrong, appearing as himself, tells Vince Vaughn’s character not to give up while at an airport bar.
This is the episode that contains the musical number, Prom Night Dumpster Baby, which refers to Melissa Drexler, a.k.a. "Prom Mom", who in 1997 gave birth to a baby boy in the bathroom at her high school senior prom, and disposed of the newborn in the trash. She pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years, but was released for good behavior in 2001.
The Redneck Comedy Tour is a reference to the Blue Collar Comedy Tour. One of them parodied Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be A Redneck" routine and another parodies Larry the Cable Guy's name and voice.
The scene where Peter gets a severe brain freeze resulting in his head exploding is very much similar to the scene in TerrorVision where Pluthar’s head explodes.
While Mayor Adam West reads My Pet Goat to a group of school children, an assistant interrupts him and whispers in his ear to alert him of the plane crash. Mayor West ignores the announcement and continues reading in a reference to George Bush’s response to the news of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The classroom itself imitates footage of Bush at the time of the announcement in every detail.
The three little mice in the corner of the screen announcing “Three Weeks Later” is a parody of the mice from Babe.
When Peter has a flashback to his “other” comedy club it is a reference to the Laugh Factory incident where Michael Richards verbally assaulted two black hecklers.
During Peter’s “flying truck” fantasy, the Top Gun anthem song plays in the background. Also in the sequence is a bit where Peter, flying upside-down, approaches an enemy fighter pilot and takes a picture of him as Goose did at the beginning of the film.
The credit sequence after Lois and Peter agree to talk to Quagmire is a parody of Will & Grace, using the same music and a similar visual montage, where Peter is Will, Lois is Grace, Stewie is Jack and Brian is Karen. In one of the passing clips during this parody, Stewie appears to be hugging Brian.
The manner in which the plane piloted by Peter, Joe, and Cleveland landed was very similar to that of the hijacked plane in the film Executive Decision
During the end credits, Quagmire is running down a hill of tall grass and flowers similar to the end sequence of Little House on the Prairie where young Melissa Gilbert as Laura Ingalls runs gleefully down the hill. The end music is from the first season of the Little House series.
As revealed in the news, Quagmire flies a Boeing 767. The scene where he glides a plane without fuel to an unexpected area is a reference to the Gimli Glider in which the plane glides to a former runway, which at that time, has been converted into a drag racing strip.