D.O. Guerrero (Van Heflin), who is down on his luck, plans to set off a bomb on the plane. He buys a bunch of life insurance with the intent that his wife will be taken care of after his demise. Guerrero’s plans are almost foiled, in part due to the elderly stowaway who managed to sneak on the doomed plane. However—spoiler alert!—Guerrero does manage to detonate his bomb, but this does not force the plane down. Instead the pilot and his crew are forced to land the damaged plane at the icy airport on a compromised runway. It’s only then that the real disaster element comes into play.
While the post-bomb scenes are suitably tense, everything before that lacks any kind of excitement at all. It’s hard to think of Airport as a real disaster movie, considering how long it takes to get to the incident and how quickly it wraps up after that. It would not be until the subsequent sequels that disaster would become the main focus of the storyline. Of course Airport is also notable for it being (along with its sequels, as well as another Arthur Hailey story, Zero Hour) the partial basis for Airplane!, which effectively parodies the melodrama while actually providing an arguably more tense disaster.
The Blu-ray’s1080p, AVC-encoded transfer is very clean, with no visible signs of print damage. Airport looks pretty sharp, with a fair amount of fine detail coming through. The colors are kind of muted, intentionally it seems, so don’t expect to be overly impressed in that department. Black levels are really deep, enhancing the dramatic effect of low-lighting scenes (like anything occurring in the cockpit). The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack shows the age of the movie with a dated mix that emphasizes trebly dialogue and score. There isn’t much range or diversity, with a thin, bass-deficient sound. But even though it isn’t fancy, there’s nothing wrong with it. Dialogue is clear throughout.