Salzburg Airport does not have a help desk for passengers who mistakenly fly to Austria instead of Australia

25 October 2023
What was claimed

A photo shows a help desk in Salzburg Airport for passengers who accidentally fly to Austria, rather than Australia.

Our verdict

False. The photo shows a billboard advertising a communications company. No such help desk exists.

Posts claiming there’s a help desk in Salzburg Airport for passengers who accidentally travel to Austria—rather than Australia—have gone viral. But this is not true. 

One post, which has almost 50,000 likes on X (formerly Twitter), says: “If you’re having a bad day just remember that the Salzburg airport has a counter for people who flew to Austria instead of Australia”. Another post, with over 18,000 likes, claims more than 100 passengers make this mistake each year. 

The claim appears to have come from a photo, which several posts have shared, showing a sign that says: “Sorry, this is Austria not Australia! Need help? Please press the button.” 

Both the photo and the claim have been circulating online for several years, with the photo appearing in a blog as early as 2016. It was also reported to be true in a recent BuzzFeed article, which attributes the rise in circulation to a TikTok video that makes the claim and has over 600,000 likes. Full Fact has contacted BuzzFeed and will update this article if we hear back. 

However, the sign does not refer to a genuine help desk. In fact, as one post points out,  the photo actually shows a billboard above a luggage carousel.

Similarly, a closer look at the sign shows smaller text at the bottom that says: “Commend provides Security and Communication. From Salzburg to the rest of the world. Even for the most unlikely of situations”, followed by a link to the company’s website. 

Commend describes itself as a “large, globally recognised player providing Integrated Intercom Systems”. 

A spokesperson for Commend International confirmed to Full Fact that the photo shows an advert for the company that was at Salzburg Airport until two years ago. They said: “The aim of this advertisement was to use the well-known confusion between Australia and Austria as an occasion to present an emergency situation story that our Austrian company knows how to solve by means of the technical competence of emergency call columns. This was purely an advertising billboard and not a live demo application where one could really have made an emergency call.” 

Moreover, a spokesperson for Salzburg Airport reportedly confirmed that no such help desk exists and that she had not heard of a single passenger landing in Austria, rather than Australia, by mistake. Full Fact contacted Salzburg Airport for comment and will update the article if we receive a response. 

We’ve written about other instances where things have been taken out of context and falsely believed to be true, including a satirical post about Google Meet introducing a button to turn on all cameras at once and that an Ed Sheeran lookalike is on the run in Liverpool

Image courtesy of SZGwebmaster

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