(CBS) — A Philadelphia man says he was embarrassed Wednesday evening at Midway Airport when Southwest Airlines treated him like a terrorist.

Maher Khalil, 28, is an American citizen. He owns a pizza place in Philadelphia and had been visiting family and friends here in Chicago.

And when he and a friend were getting ready to board their Southwest flight back to Philadelphia, he says an airline employee stopped them.

“The Southwest employee told us that we cannot get in this airplane, or we cannot fly with them, because one of the passengers felt not safe with us.”

The reason? Because Khalil and his friend were speaking Arabic, he says.

Khalil says at first he thought it was a prank. Then when he realized Southwest was serious, he called 9-1-1. The police came and helped sort it out.

“It took us 30 minutes while we were arguing with them.  People passing by, thinking we are terrorists.”

Finally, they were allowed to fly. Khalil says he is considering legal action against the airline.

Southwest, contacted for this report, would only say there was a “slight delay” in the flight to Philadelphia.

“Our Employees completed conversations with Customers who approached us during the boarding process. We had a slight delay boarding and the flight and all Customers traveled on to Philadelphia arriving ten minutes behind schedule,” an emailed statement to WBBM said, in part.