How a TSA Employee Saved a Wedding Dress Left at Airport Security Check

TSA agent

After walking down the aisle in her dream wedding dress in Ohio on Aug. 8, Narolin Cepeda learned a shocking truth from her brother at her reception: her dress was left behind at Newark Liberty International Airport the day before — and only made it in time for the big day, thanks to a TSA worker.

The Cepeda family had been running late for their flight on Aug. 7, rushing to the gate in New Jersey to catch their flight to Columbus. In the midst of the hustle, Cepeda’s mother left a red roller bag behind at security check. Inside the carry-on were two dresses: the mother-of-the-bride’s outfit and the wedding dress.

Relieved they made the flight, it wasn’t until they arrived in Ohio that her family realized the bag was missing.

Cepeda’s youngest brother, Christopher Cepeda, sprang into action. He hopped onto Newark’s TSA Lost and Found page and submitted a request, but learned that the response time would be five days. The ceremony was the next afternoon.

“I was like forget it, it's not going to happen,” he told ABC7 New York.

But what he didn’t realize was that TSA administrative assistant Loletta Nathan-Gordon was on the other side of the request and saw the email come in at 11:54 a.m. In just six minutes, she located the bag in Terminal C and it was on the way to her office, according to a TSA press release.

She immediately called Cepeda’s brother and they arranged for an overnight Saturday early delivery, with the loyal sibling footing the bill.

“I could only imagine how stressful that would have been for me if my mom would have left the dress behind,” Nathan-Gordon said in the TSA statement. “I would have freaked out.”

At 8:55 a.m. on the morning of the wedding, the bag arrived before the bride ever knew of the drama — until her brother’s toast at the reception.

“That made me realize how much my brother does love me,” Cepeda told ABC7. “They did everything they could to bring the dress to me. That was my dream dress. I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

As for Christopher Cepeda, he completely credits the TSA and Nathan-Gordon. “She literally saved my sister’s wedding,” he said. “If it wasn’t for her, everything would have been a disaster.”

Rachel Chang is travel and pop culture journalist who grew up in the California Bay Area and lives in New York City (well, Hoboken, NJ). She’s a solo travel advocate, dumpling addict, and reluctant runner — who managed to finish the NYC marathon twice. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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