Thailand McDonald’s Introduces One-Hour Limit for Sitting in Restaurants

This photo was taken mid-morning at the McDonald’s McCafe near my house, before the students start to arrive and camp out.


Thailand’s students and freelancers are all abuzz about a new ruling that is being enforced at McDonald’s all over the country. Tired of Thai high school and university students buying a couple of small food items or one drink and then spending hours hogging tables at McDonald’s restaurants all over the country, the American fast food chain is fighting back.

Starting last week, McDonald’s put up notices in every McDonald’s restaurant and McCafe telling customers there is a new ‘one-hour seating rule’ during breakfast, lunch and dinner hours and all weekend. Fair? Of course it is.

In recent years, I’ve walked past McDonald’s restaurants in Bangkok (I never eat there) near to my home at all hours of the day and night only to see them crammed to the gills with students or freelance writers.

Camped out for hours on end, they take up tables (often a few tables if they’re in a big group), spend a paltry amount of money on a couple of drinks and a small order of French fries and then stay there. For what sometimes seems like days.

Other customers who want to buy a meal and eat it in comfort find it almost impossible to get a table. I’ve even seen some standing holding trays and eating their meal from the tray while waiting for a table to open up.

Then when you add in the freelance writers and other freelancers who plug in their laptops, with wires snaking all over McDonald’s floors for customers to trip over, and sit there all day nursing one cup of coffee as well, it’s a wonder any McDonald’s customer ever finds a table at all.

So, from now on, if you’re not buying a lot of food or you aren’t continually getting up to buy another drink or a snack, McDonald’s is asking everyone in Thailand to please leave once they have eaten their meal. And, yes, an hour should be enough for that.

Besides, they’re being very fair about the new one-hour seating rule. If you need to stay longer, then simply have everyone at the table buy another drink, a packet of French fries, a burger or a dessert. It’s only fair to everyone else.