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Final Flight for US Airways Before American Merger

By Jessica Dean

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- US Airways, born in 1939, is flying into the sunset. Its final flight took off Friday morning from Philadelphia International Airport. It's taking a trip across the country and returning under a new corporate name.

People packed the last US Airways flight, fittingly named Flight 1939, leaving Philly and headed for Charlotte, North Carolina. It will hop to Phoenix, San Francisco, and circle back to Philadelphia early Saturday morning before it's rebranded American Airlines.

Aviation enthusiasts came just to be on the final flight, like 13-year-old aspiring pilot Ethan Hellofs of North Carolina. He even wore a homemade US Airways shirt.

"He basically sold it to us as an educational opportunity to be part of history," Julie Hellofs, Ethan's mother, said.

"Well, in the past few years, there's been many mergers with like Delta, Northwest, United, Continental, so I really wanted to be a part of aviation history," Ethan said, "and because of those mergers, I thought there probably wouldn't be anything like this anytime soon."

He's right. Media packed the gate as people boarded. Even some employees were along for the ride.

US Airways maintenance worker Habib Issa said, "I'm based in Los Angeles. I flew all the way here. I flew this aircraft in to go back to Charlotte."

It's going to take more than a new coat of paint to change US Airways over to American. The biggest challenge is combining the reservation systems, says one merger expert, Henry Harteveldt.

"If it goes wrong, passengers are going to be angry and American Airlines does not want to have angry passengers," said Harteveldt.

For now, these fliers were happy and ready for final boarding.

You'll still see the US Airways logo on many American planes until painting is complete, but the US Airways name and logo will disappear from check-in counters this weekend.

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