Need ID: Get a 'pic' in a pinch at the airport

By Greg Gelpi

The tickets bought and the bags packed, but without the proper paperwork the dreams of a perfect trip could be just that – dreams.

That's where the Airport and Visa Denied Boarding Desk at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport comes in.

Michelle Sloan, the operations manager of the Denied Boarding Desk, said that passengers come into her office worried that their vacations, business trips and flights abroad won't make it out of the airport after discovering they don't have the proper paperwork for their flights.

"They're crying because they're thinking they can't go on their trip," Sloan, a resident of College Park, said.

Sloan, who formerly worked as a travel agent, said she gets joy, however, in being able to provide help to travelers in times of distress. The office assists passengers in getting documents, including birth certificates, visas and passports.

"If it's Mexico, I know I can get it in five minutes," Sloan said. "Some countries aren't as easy as that."

Oftentimes confusion comes about from passengers not knowing which documents are needed to travel out of the country, Sloan said.

"Any time you see feet on the back you know it's the wrong document," she said, explaining that passengers often mistake hospital records for birth certificates.

The Denied Boarding Desk also provides services to business travelers, whether they are arriving at, departing from or simply passing through the terminals of the airport.

Business travelers can take advantage of the office's high-speed Internet connection, book hotels, make copies, send faxes and have paperwork notarized, the most popular of the services, Sloan said.

Sloan said she also provides "meet and greet" services, primarily for children and the elderly. She meets passengers as they arrive at the airport and walks them to her office to meet their families, she explained.

Passengers can seek help with any one of a number of issues at the Denied Boarding Desk, which is part of the concierge services, said Patsy Wolf, the president of TIS Inc. TIS operates the Denied Boarding Desk.

"We're totally dedicated to helping customers," Wolf said, explaining that the office has a number of new services and helps passengers beyond the office's advertised services.

Each time a passenger asks a question it prompts the office to consider adding a new service, she said.

The office can even ship large items, such as golf clubs, that can't be brought on to planes, and serves as a will call, holding items, such as keys, so that they can be picked up at a later time.

The office is also offering tickets for Paris' subway system and museums, as well as large driving maps and city maps.