Sometimes you can’t believe everything you hear or see. That includes a  notice that your flight has been delayed. Recently I learned that the hard way.

Just because an airport terminal screen says a flight is delayed, don’t assume it truly is delayed.

Maybe it has to do with the Las Vegas airport. Somehow I always have challenges there. That was the case again the other day when I had a connecting flight in that airport on my trip home from Reno, where I was visiting my son’s family.

The original flight from Reno to Las Vegas was delayed, so I knew I’d have less time between flights than I had anticipated. My reasonable hope was that my arriving gate would be near my departing gate.

That hope was quashed when I walked off the first plane and realized I was in the B terminal and my next flight was in the C terminal. Then I discovered the gate I was leaving was at the far end of the C terminal and the gate for my next flight was at the far end of the B terminal. I felt what might be called  a “terminal illness.”

But then there seemed to be good news. On the airport departure screen was this message: “Flight delayed.” Instead of leaving at the scheduled time of  11:40 a.m. it would be leaving at 11:50 a.m., a gift of 10 extra minutes.

My body felt in good shape, ready to have a brisk walk across the lengths of two terminals. I walked so briskly I almost knocked down a few people moving slowly. I was proud of the speed of my long walk, and when I got to my gate at 11:15 a.m. I had more good news (I thought). My flight was delayed even more, to 12:00, with a boarding time of 11:40.

Man, I was feeling good. I had enough time—25 minutes–to walk to a nearby airport restaurant, have a beverage, grab a bite to eat and then get back to my  departing gate at 11:40, 20 minutes before the flight’s departure. Actually, I could get to the gate later, since I had a “C” boarding pass.

Life was good. I ordered a nice cool beverage and a burrito to go with it. I had a nice conversation with a friendly bartender and felt quite relaxed.

The burrito came, I leisurely ate half of it (saving the other half for later) and drank almost all of my beverage when some voice inside of me said I had better get going.

At 11:34 I paid my bill and started my short walk to the gate, assuming I was going to get there before boarding began.  I arrived at the gate at 11:37, only to find that the screen there flashed “boarded”–not “boarding.”

I saw no one in line to board and all the nearby seats were empty. There was no person at the station where boarding passes are checked.

I hustled back to the counter and asked the woman there, “Where is everyone for this flight?”

“They’re all on the plane,” she said matter-of-factly. “The plane is ready to take off on time, as scheduled, at 11:40.”

“Huh?” I blurted. “A little while ago the screen behind you said the flight was delayed 20 minutes.”

She looked at me as though I were speaking Greek. This was no time to argue, however. Then she said, thankfully, that I could still board the plane. Someone, she said, would be at the check-in spot soon.

I went to the door leading out to the plane, which was closed and locked. I was beginning to panic just a little when I saw a guy walking up the ramp toward me. He calmly opened the door and sat at the check-in point.

“This is my flight,” I said. “Here is my boarding pass.” He looked at me for a moment, then said, “Are you David? We’ve been looking for  you.”

“No, I’m not David. I’m John,” as I put my practically stuck my boarding pass in his face.

After about a minute he said, “Oh,  yes, I see you on the list. You may now board.”

I exhaled deeply, went through the door and hustled down the ramp.  I saw the last two people boarding getting onto the plane. OK, I said to myself, I won’t look that odd or stupid.

Once on the plane, I squeezed down the aisle with my carry-on suitcase and small briefcase. All the overhead compartments, it seemed, were closed. Fortunately, a kind flight attendant found the last space available for my suitcase. Great, I thought, all I need now is a seat.

I didn’t see any open seats as I walked toward the back of the plane. A flight attendant walking toward me said, “You can stop right here. There aren’t any seats back there.” I turned around and saw no empty seats toward the front of the plane.

The flight attendant then said, “Maybe we can put you on a jump seat in the back of the plane and you can sit with the flight attendants.”

Once again I walked toward the back of the plane, wondering what it would be like to sit on a jump seat. But then a small miracle happened. The flight attendant pointed to an empty aisle seat two rows from the back and said, “Here’s your seat, sir.”

Wow! An aisle seat, my favorite, how amazing for the last person who boarded. I sat back, exhaled again and relaxed. Then, over the intercom, I heard a flight attendant say, “Everyone get out your boarding pass and your ID.  We think there is someone on this plane who shouldn’t be.”

Great. I came all this way only to be kicked off just before takeoff. I tried not to look guilty as I showed my boarding pass.

About a minute later came another announcement. “It’s OK folks. You can put away your boarding passes. We found David.”

We took off a few minutes later, and I was relieved, until a little while afterwards, the captain announced, “Flight attendants take your seats, NOW.”

We then hit a turbulence that made the roller coaster rides I’ve been on seem like the Dumbo ride at Disneyland.

Oh, great, I thought. Maybe I should have missed this flight, since it seems we’re about to crash and die.

The turbulence eventually stopped, we landed, and I didn’t die.

And so, dear readers, here’s the moral of this story.

No, wait. What is the moral?