Philly Pizza Shop Owner, Friend Told They Can’t Fly After Speaking Arabic

The men were told they couldn’t board a Philly-bound flight after a passenger complained they were speaking Arabic. They called 911 to get on board.

Photo | Facebook

Photo | Facebook

Two Philadelphians were delayed on a flight back from Chicago’s Midway Airport because a passenger was uncomfortable with them speaking Arabic, they said.

“We’re American citizens just like everybody else,” Maher Khalil told NBC 10 last night. He couldn’t be reached today at Pizza Point, the Feltonville pizza shop he owns.

Khalil, 29, and Anas Ayyad, 28, said they were profiled while attempting to board a Southwest Airlines flight back from Chicago to PHL on Wednesday night. A gate agent told them they wouldn’t be allowed to board after another passenger said she was uncomfortable flying with them after hearing the pair speaking Arabic. Khalil and Ayyad moved to Philadelphia from Palestine 15 years ago, they told NBC 10. Kahlil told Fox 29 he is a U.S. citizen.

The two called 911 after being denied entry to the flight. The two were held at the counter for about 20 minutes. “After like 20 minutes of waiting, holding me, making me feel like I’m a terrorist in front of everyone in the airport — passengers coming by, asking what’s going on,” Khalil told Fox 29. Eventually, the pair were allowed to fly home to Philadelphia, though the flight was delayed.

Khalil said, once on the flight, passengers kept asking him what was in the white box he was carrying. So he shared his baklava with fellow passengers on board.

“Safety is our primary focus, and our Employees are trained to make decisions to ensure that safety, and to safeguard the security of our Crews and Customers on every flight,” Southwest Airlines said in a statement. The company called the incident before Flight 6599 departed a “brief disagreement with two customers during the boarding process.”

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  • Oh well, when in Rome….

  • Mike M

    If this is true, it’s horrible and ridiculous. But, it’s hard to believe that the airline would actually try to turn someone away over one person’s frivolous complaint, or that amidst the bizarre behaviors and conversations in multiple languages that one inevitably encounters at a big city airport, someone speaking Arabic would register on someone’s radar… Especially on a flight from Chicago to Philly (neither of which are without arabic speaking populations.)

    It seems like there must have been more to the story.

    • wendyrose

      more to the story? have you not heard all the bizarre and ridiculous crap this past week? like presidential candidates actually suggesting that muslims wear a gold crescent just like the nazis did with the jews?

      • Lily Danktree

        Guvz from tx,nc and al sounded like the simplest of grovelling, pandering clowns as they made “announcements” about protecting their citizens. Sheet, those states have idiot governors who couldnt distinguish a haitian from a houthi.

        • She’s often confused

          What difference, at this point, does it make?

  • Exploding Baklava

    ” Khalil and Ayyad moved to Philadelphia from Palestine”

    They are from Texas?

    • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

      “They are from Texas?”
      Nah, not Real Amerikin White enough.
      Like William Hudson, a Better Dead Than Ted Texan.
      “Hudson served 3 warrants for campsite deaths
      “The Palestine (Texas) Herald-Press
      “Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2015 4:49 pm
      “Anderson County District Attorney Allyson Mitchel was granted two new charges in the William Hudson case for the multiple deaths at a Tennessee Colony campsite.
      “In a press conference Monday, Mitchell shared the possibility that more charges of murder could be added to Hudson’s already existing charge of murder with a $2.5 million bond.
      “Thursday, Mitchell released that Hudson received two additional charges of capital murder. Hudson was arrested with a charge for the murder of six-year-old Kade Johnson; the second charge for the murder of Karl Johnson, 76, and his daughter, Hannah Johnson, 40; and the third charge for the murder of Thomas Kamp, 46, and his two sons Nathan, 23, and Austin, 21.”

      • Jeru Salem

        There is no other Palestine, where else could they be from?

        • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

          Little place in the sand, where the Three Greatest Heroes forever remain:
          1. Meir Kahane;
          2. Yigal Amir; and,
          3. Convicted American Traitor (under Bonzo’s watch, no less) Jonathan Pollard.

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  • PJ London

    Failure to be able to converse in English, would bar 99% of Americans from flights, the world over.
    Whatever it is that “yall” speak, it can hardly be classified English.

  • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

    “Khalil said, once on the flight, passengers kept asking him what was in the white box he
    was carrying. So he shared his baklava with fellow passengers on board.”
    As Better Dead Than Ted, Da Donald, and Doc Benny have ordered you: Be careful! That baklava could go off at any time!

  • baxtus

    The Trumpining of America continues

  • mr. bill

    “”brief disagreement with two customers during the boarding process.” – what was it tha tthey didn’t agree on? This isn’t clear. Well, it appears to be a lie by the airline.