By Marcy Norton

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — U.S. Airways has flown into the history books. The carrier’s final flight arrived early Saturday in Philadelphia. Now, the airline officially merges with American Airlines and the U.S. Airways brand disappears.

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It was a bittersweet gathering at Philadelphia International’s gate A-12. The final U.S. Airways flight touched down at 6:01 a.m., and the disembarking passengers were greeted with cheers, balloons and gifts from the employees and well wishers there, some wiping away tears.

Passenger Patrick O’Connor of London, Ohio stood out, wearing an inflatable, U.S. Airways plane on his head.

“They had a cake that they cut up,” he said. “We had a celebratory champagne toast. it was excellent.”

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Thirteen-year-old passenger Ethan Hellofs, who hopes to be a pilot someday, came from North Carolina earlier in the week so he could take the entire trip, a near 24 hour trek of flight 1939, which left here Friday morning and stopped in places like Phoenix and San Francisco before returning to Philadelphia.

“Its been really fun,” he said. “At every single stop there’s always been a huge celebration and at all the celebrations, maybe, like a quarter of people have actually been on the flight. There were a whole bunch of employees and stuff.”

Eighty-nine-year old Ed Colodny was U.S. Airways Chairman and CEO from 1975 to 1991. Colodny says the final flight was a great occasion, a celebration of the airline he helped build.

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“And a celebration of the new airline created with the merging of U.S. Airways and American,” he says. “So it’s really a two-for.”