Leaving behind a magazine in the checkpoint bin or forgetting to pack a toothbrush may be an inconvenience, but chances are it won’t ruin your trip. You can always buy what you need at your destination. But forgetting a bag packed with a one-of-a kind wedding dress? That’s a problem.
“My family [the Cepedas] and I were flying from Newark to Columbus, Ohio, for my sister’s wedding,” said Christopher Cepeda, “and in the excitement of the moment and making sure my grandfather got to the gate on time, my mom forgot her red carry-on bag somewhere at the airport checkpoint. Not just any carry-on bag, but the bag that had all my mom’s clothes, dress for the wedding and . . . wait for it . . . my sister’s wedding dress. OMG!”
With the wedding the next day and the average response time for processing an online Lost & Found form five days, the outlook was gloomy. But that didn’t deter Cepeda.
Within two minutes of submitting the request, Cepeda received a response from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) Customer Service Administrative Assistant Loletta Nathan-Gordon. Nathan-Gordon called EWR’s Lost & Found and explained the problem to LTSO Sidney Hicks. Hicks returned to the airport and picked up the red carry-on bag, packaged it, and placed it at a United Parcel Service (UPS) pick-up location. Nathan-Gordon called UPS to make sure the box would make it on time the next morning.
“I could only imagine how stressful that would have been for me if my mom would have left the dress behind," Nathan-Gordon said. "I would have freaked out.”
Cepeda said TSA went above and beyond to make sure the bag was delivered on time. “[Nathan-Gordon] continued to help me after she was done working and sent me an email to make sure everything was taken care of,” said Cepeda. “I have never received that much care and dedication from an employee or company ever before. She literally saved my sister's wedding. If it wasn't for her, everything would have been a disaster.”
The lost bag was delivered to the hotel the next morning, just before 9 a.m.
“I made a speech at my sister's wedding telling everyone the story,” Cepeda recalled, “and my sister said, ‘Thank God, the wedding would have been ruined,’ So, on behalf of the Cepeda family, I would like to express my utmost gratitude for [Nathan-Gordon’s] service.”
On September 1, prior to his biweekly virtual Town Hall from EWR, Administrator Pekoske presented Nathan-Gordon with an Administrator’s coin and gave her a well-deserved shout out.
“I perform my job with the core values in mind – integrity, respect, and commitment,” said Nathan Gordon. “This caps off a grateful two weeks of recognition from coworkers, family and media. It’s been said many times before, ‘It’s my job,’ but it’s always been a part of me to assist people in any way I can. To make a difference in someone’s life is good karma.”