McDonald's in Austria offers hotline to embassy

Image source, McDonald's

US citizens who need help in Austria can now head to their nearest branch of McDonald's, because of an agreement signed by the fast-food giant.

The embassy says any American "in distress" or whose passport has been lost or stolen can get assistance from one Austria's 194 McDonald's joints.

Restaurant staff have been given the task of helping US citizens get in touch with the US embassy.

A 24-hour hotline to the embassy is part of the arrangement.

The embassy said it was ensuring that American citizens had every option available to get in touch when in need - "the #1 duty of every embassy around the world".

McDonald's said it saw itself as a type of support and telephone exchange and had agreed to the idea on the request of US ambassador Trevor Traina.

A spokesman told the BBC it would also "help anyone who finds themselves in need of assistance, for example, by calling the police or emergency services".

Mr Traina signed an agreement with the company's managing director in Austria, Isabelle Kuster, last week.

Info from the Consular Section: New partnership with McDonald's Austria to help U.S. citizens in need - Ambassador...

Posted by U.S. Embassy Vienna on Friday, May 10, 2019
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The company said its branches would continue to be Austrian territory and would offer help to anyone in need, not just Americans.

Not everyone was impressed by the announcement on social media:

  • One Facebook user wondered if the idea was "because apparently we are too incompetent to look up the US embassy online"
  • Another joked: "One McPassport to go please"
  • Another asked: "Is this in lieu of a staffed embassy?"

To which the embassy responded "certainly not", adding that the embassy was fully staffed and the partnership was "only one extra way for Americans to connect to the Embassy when they are in an emergency situation".

Mr Traina, a former technology entrepreneur, was nominated for the Vienna post by President Donald Trump last year.

President Trump is himself widely known for his taste for burgers and fries.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
This was the fast-food spread ordered by President Trump in January

In January he ordered 300 burgers, fries and pizzas for the White House from a variety of fast-food joints when he had guests during the partial government shutdown.

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