"Airplanes" peaked at number one on the charts in the United Kingdom and New Zealand, as well as the top three in Australia, Canada, Ireland and the United States. "Airplanes, Part II", the sequel to the song, features new verses from B.o.B, and a verse from fellow American rapper Eminem, while Williams's vocals remained intact. This collaboration led to a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals.
Williams' appearance in the song was explained by herself and B.o.B in different interviews to MTV. Williams said Paramore was on tour when she was given the song and she "liked the part too much" and accepted to appear on it. B.o.B said he has "always been a Hayley fan" and he did not expect a collaboration between them too soon. The duo did not get in the studio together to record the song, they were not together to shoot the music video, and had never even met each other in person, according to Williams. The only time that B.o.B and Williams were able to meet was when they performed "Airplanes" live for the first time together during the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. The second time the song was performed together live was during Vanderbilt University's Fall 2010 "Commodore Quake" concert in Nashville, TN. During B.o.B.'s performance, Williams came out as a special guest to perform the song.
Williams in a photo in the music video.
A music video was shot with Williams. B.o.B shot his scenes for the video in April, but Williams was only able to shoot her parts after the end of Paramore's spring tour, so they were never in the same room during filming. The music video, directed by Hiro Murai, premiered on iTunes on Tuesday June 15, 2010. The video features several frames of B.o.B rapping his verses in a party setting, on stage, and a room filled with lights and occasional song lyrics while Hayley Williams sings the hook in a light filled room and walking through photographs.
"Airplanes" sold 138,000 digital downloads in its first week and debuted at number five on the BillboardHot Digital Songs chart. The sales made the song debut at number twelve on Billboard Hot 100, making it B.o.B's highest debut on the chart and Williams' first entry as a solo act. The song continued to rise in the chart and peaked at number two on its sixth week, losing the top position to Usher's "OMG". "Airplanes" entered in numerous Billboard charts, including the Pop Songs and Rap Songs charts, where the song peaked at number two. "Airplanes" had sold over 4 million digital downloads by December 2010, according to Nielsen Soundscan, becoming a bigger success in the United States than his debut single, "Nothin' On You".
Elsewhere, "Airplanes" was well received. The song debuted at number sixty two on the Canadian chart and reached its current peak position of number two on its ninth week on the chart. In the Australian chart the song debuted at number eighteen and peaked at number two within three weeks on the chart and has been in that position for six non-consecutive weeks. It was in New Zealand where the song got its first number one position. After three weeks of its debut (at number three), the song reached number one and stayed in that position for five consecutive weeks. "Airplanes" later received a Platinum certification in New Zealand, due to its successful chart performance.
In Europe, the song has been released in a number countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. "Airplanes" first appearance in a European chart was in Norway and Ireland and the song has reached the Top ten in both countries. In the United Kingdom, however, the song was even more successful. It debuted at number twenty-three on the UK Singles Chart and within five weeks on the chart, the song managed to reach the number two spot, again losing the top to Katy Perry's "California Gurls". In the same week, "Airplanes" was number one on the UK R&B Chart. The following week, "Airplanes" went to number one from downloads alone of 75,892, becoming B.o.B's second number one hit in Britain following his debut single "Nothin' On You", which had reached the British chart summit almost two months earlier. "Airplanes" has also peaked at number two in the European Hot 100 chart.
The song was No. 6 on Billboard's Year End Chart. The song is the twenty-first most downloaded single in British chart history.
As of January 2013, the official music video on YouTube has over 180 million views.
A sequel to the song, titled "Airplanes, Part II", has two new verses by B.o.B and Hayley Williams and featured vocals by Eminem. The song also featured a faster beat and chorus by Hayley Williams comparing to the original song. The song was produced by Alex da Kid with additional production added by Eminem. Alex da Kid said that the beat for "Airplanes Part II" was the original beat for the song. In the song, Eminem and B.o.B wonder what would happen if they had not pursued musical careers. B.o.B posted the song on his official Twitter account, claiming he wanted the song to leak from him since the other songs of his album were leaking. When asked how he got to collaborate with Eminem, B.o.B stated:
"Paul Rosenberg played him the Cloud 9 mixtape and it kind of gave him an idea of what my music [sounds like]. Eventually he started playing Eminem more of my stuff and was keeping him updated on my progress and eventually he wanted to get in the studio with me, so that was a gift."