Holiday travel success maintained by airline mechanics

(CNN) - A lot is riding on people like Michael Baumgarten as more than 24 million travelers are expected to fly this Thanksgiving week. Baumgarten is a technician for United Airlines at Houston Intercontinental Airport.

"The airplane just pulled into the gate. We do a routine walk around inspection every time they come in," Baumgarten said.

Technicians get at least half an hour to check every plane that lands. They inspect the entire plane to make sure everything's OK before the next flight.

"Anything at all, broken, leaking, worn out. If there's something wrong, we'll know about it," Baumgarten said.

United is anticipating a peak load of more than 600 flights through Houston the day before Thanksgiving. Passengers – and the airline - want planes running safely and on time.

"If the airplane is not all safe and legal, it can't go," Baumgarten said.

The safety checks are inside and out. On United's new 787 Dreamliner, technicians examine the electronics.

"We're just going through problems we've had in the past, and talking about ways we can keep them from coming up in the future," said Larry Thompson, United Airlines maintenance supervisor.

Every four years, every plane goes through a major safety overhaul. Most mechanical problems are logged in flight so base crews knows issues before the plane lands. Most found issues are not always a quick fix.

"We do the best we can," Baumgarten said. "They didn't build them in a day. We can't always fix it in five minutes, but we always get it fixed."

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