Welcome to McDonald’s, are you lost?
Picture this, if you will: You’re on a solo trip in Vienna, and you lose your passport. Maybe you lost other things, maybe your bag was stolen too and the situation is bad. You’re stumbling around town, in search of help. For a moment, you lose hope, but then, suddenly in the distance, you see a familiar sight. You see…the golden arches.
Before now, the above meant absolutely nothing. If you were an American undergoing the above crisis in Austria you would be instructed to go to one place, and one place only: The US Embassy. Now, you have another option: McDonald’s. Yes, that’s right, you can now go to McDonald’s, the fast food chain, if you need assistance when you’re abroad thanks to a recent partnership between McDonald’s Austria and the US Embassy in Vienna.
A post on the US Embassy’s Facebook page explains: “American citizens traveling in Austria who find themselves in distress and without a way to contact the U.S. Embassy can enter—as of Wednesday, May 15, 2019 —any McDonald’s in Austria and staff will assist them in making contact with the U.S. Embassy for consular services.”
That’s right. The employees of 194 McDonald’s locations in Austria have been given a new job requirement: putting US citizens in touch with the US Embassy if they come in asking for help.
I’m sorry… what?
A Facebook user responded to the post, asking if this was “in lieu of a staffed embassy,” to which the embassy responded that it was absolutely not and that their embassy is, in fact, fully staffed. It’s simply, they say, an “extra way for Americans to connect to the Embassy when they are in an emergency situation.”
After extensive research (a three-second Google search), we found that the US Embassy in Vienna is completely surrounded by McDonald’s. A coincidence? We have absolutely no idea.
Excuse Me, But We Have Questions
While this seems like a weird PR move by McDonald’s (because it is), we, understandably, have some additional questions you might be asking yourself and have provided the answers.
Can McDonald’s really help you?
Well, yes, technically. According to the announcement, the services McDonald’s can provide are solutions to a lost or stolen passport (aka directing you to the US Embassy to fix this) and offering travel assistance (aka also directing you to the US Embassy, who will further give you assistance). So, as of right now, it seems as though this just means that employees at McDonald’s are required to just… tell you where the US Embassy is and how to contact them.
How are McDonald’s employees being trained?
They’re just being told to put you in touch of the embassy, and describe their role in all of this as a “type of support and telephone exchange.” So, again, they are simply directing you to the embassy or providing you with its telephone number, should you not be able to Google it yourself (because maybe your phone doesn’t work or you lost it).
Is it just for Americans?
No. According to the embassy, McDonald’s will offer help to anyone, despite their nationality (aka direct anyone, regardless of their nationality, to their appropriate embassy where they will receive actual help).
I’m sorry, but…why is this a thing?
Not entirely sure, but it’s probably a PR move–a cute one, sure, but still.
Do you have to order something at McDonald’s in order to receive help, like using their bathrooms?
No. Stop it, this is a serious story!
Can I get asylum at a KFC now, as well, while abroad?
KFC has not partnered with any embassy at this time, so no, it’s just McDonald’s right now.
If I am in a foreign country and go into a Taco Bell, are they required to help me if I am lost?
Again, not at this time, sorry!
Okay, well, will this be expanding beyond Austria? Will other countries adopt it?
As of right now, this is not known, but our educated guess is… no.
Is this just marketing to get Americans to Austria?
It’s quite possible. Actually, let me change my answer, yes, that is exactly what it is.
Wait, Austria Doesn’t Need Marketing, Though
All joking aside, this is cute, but there shouldn’t be a need for cutesy marketing campaigns to give fast-food-loving Americans a reason to want to visit Austria. Austria is lovely and incredible. Here are reasons to go to Austria that have nothing to do with the fact that there is literally no way you can get lost there now because there are McDonald’s everywhere that will help you find your way around.
Quite Interesting Museums and Palaces
Vienna is home to some of the most interesting (and macabre) museums in the world. The Clock Museum showcases over 1,000 different clocks, and resides in one of Vienna’s oldest homes. Kriminalmuseum (or criminal museum) is a grisly museum centered around infamous Austrian murders and crime. The Sigmund Freud Museum is also located in Vienna, and while it used to be the actual office and living space of Dr. Freud, it’s now a museum centered around the works of the psychoanalyst and neurologist. Hofburg Palace is extensive and contains a glorious hodgepodge of history and culture (and royalty).
A Lot of Macabre
There is no shortage of crypts and wonderful creepiness in Austria. Stephansdom Crypt is full of skeletons and jars containing… other types of remains formerly belonging to Austrian royalty. More royal skeletons can be found at Habsburg Imperial Crypt. There’s even a classy ski lodge with seriously weird and wonderfully creepy art scattered about on the mountains, called Kristallhütte (think doors going nowhere and gigantic spiders).
Austria is often overlooked for its beer, given that it’s right next to Germany (a beer king), but do not underestimate her–Austria knows its beer and has the biggest density of breweries in Europe. Kick back in a beer garden and enjoy a Marzen, or visit the Stiegl Brewery in Salzburg for a tour (or, y’know, just a drink). You can even bathe in beer at an Austrian brewery castle, Starkenberger.
Austria knows music, and Austria knows opera better than anyone. The world-famous Vienna Opera House is known for its first-class performances and is one of the most impressive things you could possibly ever attend (seriously). Mozart was also born in Salzburg, and you can visit his house (which is also a museum).
So, go to Austria because Austria is incredible—not because a McDonald’s will call the embassy for you.