Influenza presents a unique human infectious disease that has a substantial impact on the public health, in general, and especially for those with chronic airways diseases. People with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are particularly vulnerable to influenza infection and experience more severe symptoms with the worsening of their pre-existing conditions. Recent advances in reverse genetics and innate immunity has revealed several influenza virulence factors and host factors involved in influenza pathogenesis and the immune responses to infection. Early innate immunity plays a critical role of limiting viral infection and spread; however, the underlying mechanisms that lead to enhanced susceptibility to influenza infection and severe symptoms in those with asthma and COPD to infection remain un-investigated. This review will explore the importance of early innate antiviral responses to influenza infection and how these responses are altered by influenza virus and in those with chronic airways diseases.