If you’re an American tourist in Austria and you lose your passport or need urgent travel assistance, you might want to head to the nearest McDonald’s. That’s because the fast-food chain has signed an agreement with the U.S. Embassy in Vienna to help Americans in distress.
The partnership, which was announced on May 10 and became active on Wednesday, allows any U.S. citizen to walk into any of the 194 McDonald’s outlets in Austria and ask for help. The staff will provide them with a phone number to contact the embassy, as well as a phone to make the call, if necessary.
The embassy says the initiative is part of its commitment to assisting U.S. citizens in need overseas, and that it works with private-sector and other non-government entities from time to time. A McDonald’s representative said the company was not being paid to offer the service.
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.
The US Embassy is the heart, FYI.
The unusual partnership has raised many eyebrows on social media, where users were quick to pan the U.S. for partnering with the fast food brand, which has been associated with rising obesity levels.
“Can I have a McPassport please,” wrote one Facebook user. “Introducing the McVisa!” wrote another – in a comment that received 50 likes and “haha” reactions on Facebook. Some others were more supportive: “Thank you, I wish more countries/businesses would be willing to help others in this way!” one person wrote. Others raised questions of confidentiality of private information.
When one user asked whether the agreement might be a precursor to the actual U.S. embassy in Vienna shutting down, the official account replied: “Certainly not. Our Embassy is fully staffed and ready to assist American citizens in need. This partnership is only one extra way for Americans to connect to the Embassy when they are in an emergency situation.”
The embassy also clarified that the partnership does not mean that McDonald’s is officially representing the U.S. government in any capacity, and that the staff are not authorized to perform any consular functions.
So, if you’re ever in a pickle in Austria, don’t forget to look for the golden arches. They might just save your day.
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