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Go onto the taxiway as United Airlines crews prepare for busiest Memorial Day ever at Denver International Airport

United Airlines gears for biggest weekend travel ever in Denver
United Airlines gears for biggest weekend travel ever in Denver 02:14

Memorial Day weekend is expected to bring record-breaking travel for some parts of Denver International Airport, specifically with United Airlines. The airport's largest provider, United, expects to set a record for the number of passengers they're serving in the next four days in Denver.

Jonna McGrath, vice president of the United Denver Hub, told CBS News Colorado's Dillon Thomas her team plans to facilitate more than 500 flights a day over the holiday weekend.

"It is really the kickoff of our summer travel season at United," McGrath said. "We will be covering over 55,000 people a day out of Denver."


Thursday was expected to be the busiest day for travel this Memorial Day for United.

In order to make sure flights remain on schedule and aircraft can continue their rotations with few delays, United has a crew known as the "move team" that makes sure gates are accessible to passengers.

The move team is comprised of some of the airline's most experienced staff, all of whom have special training in being able to relocate aircraft without the need of assistance from a pilot or mechanic.

"We can move anywhere from 40 aircraft, all the way up to 70 or 80 aircraft a day," said Kenneth Liming, a member of the move team.

The team uses million-dollar tug machines to latch onto the aircraft's landing gear. From there they drive the planes to and from gates or even out to parking zones near hangars.

By using the tug machines to move the aircraft, the move team is able to save the airline millions of dollars in fuel. The vehicles also help cut down on emissions that would be released by running the aircraft's large engines just to park the plane elsewhere.

"They are really keeping us on track," McGrath said. "We really want to make sure we are using our gates as much as we possibly can."

Liming took Thomas on a ride along to see how the job was done, access never before granted to any other outlet. There, he used his training to maneuver a Boeing 777 from United's hangar to a gate prior to boarding.


Liming said busy times like Memorial Day means the team is constantly on the move.

"This is going to be the busiest one in the history of Denver, as far as United is concerned," Liming said.

While pilots, flight attendants and gate agents are often on the front lines of making sure passengers get to their destinations on time, the move team in Denver is quietly one of the most important resources to that effort as well.

"It is fun to watch. Every turn is like a symphony orchestra," McGrath said. 

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