What Airlines and Hotels Celebrate Your Birthday?

The little girl a few tables over was serenaded with song and birthday cake at breakfast this morning at the Hilton Aruba, and the little kid in me was jealous. Don’t they know it’s my birthday, too?

My wife went over to the waitress. First it was going to be difficult because we did not pre-order, then she came back and told my wife to stall me. Someone in the kitchen was sent to a bakery and 20 minutes later, this lovely plate appeared.

The hotel knew my birthday as far as they had my Hilton HHonors gold number and profile, though nothing was forthcoming from them without this restaurant prompt. (Note: this hotel recently converted from Radisson to Hilton; at check-in, the clerk told me they can see HHonors numbers but not status so those staying need to be active in mentioning status.)

In contrast, last year I was at the Grand Hyatt Mumbai for business on my birthday. I rarely stay at Hyatts though have their credit card and platinum status with it. I returned to my room after a day trip to the UNESCO-listed Buddhist caves at Ajanta and Ellora, and there was a huge cake.

Earlier this summer, my wife was given a birthday cake at the Radisson Blu Plaza Xingguo Hotel Shanghai and later that day another on Korean Air in business class. Both were manually requested. The Radisson reservation was in my name, not her’s. Both of us are gold status from the credit card. For Korean Air I don’t know if they would have done something without me calling. I did that in advance and was given a choice of which flight segment for her surprise cake (I was on a separate Delta flight).

Readers, which airlines and hotels recognize birthdays? Which do it automatically and which need a nudge? Share your memorable experiences.

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  • Happy chocolate-intensive birthday!

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Plane2Port – tomorrow I need to tell the granadilla and soursop story.

  • My understanding is that Singapore gets you a cake, regardless of class of service.

  • Darlene

    We stayed at a Ritz in Dubai for our anniversary and they did an amazing job for our anniversary. They had a rose petals in the shape of a heart before we checked in and when we came back from dinner there was a bath drawn with rose water and petals and champagne. We did not ask for it, but they were aware why we were there.

  • Mitch

    I was staying with a classmate at the JW Marriott in Cusco, and on his birthday, they left a slice of cake in our room. Super nice!

  • Mhenner

    Since hotel guests do not necessarily eat at the hotel restaurant, and non hotel guests do, why should the restaurant know about the birthdays.

  • Ash R.

    Waldorf Astoria in Rome, Italy made birthday celebrations for my husband special back in June 2011. We were out for the day and went we got back to the room, we found a beautiful display of a Prosecco in a chilled bucket with two glasses, some chocolates and a birthday card for him! The reservation was in my name and I had a diamond status with Hilton so was surprised as to how they knew his birthday! Later we found out, they made a note of it when we checked in and they had swiped our passports as a normal check in process. We were very touched with their attentiveness!

  • TxAg

    I had an anniversary trip at the Sheraton New Orleans (one of my fav Sheratons in the US). I’m SPG platinum and asked for an upgrade at check in and told them it was our anniversary. When we got back from dinner, they had a bottle of white wine and a fruits plate with a very nice congratulations card! Jetblue once upgraded me to first for my birthday and I didn’t even have to ask! Hilton San Diego also upgraded me to an ocean view when I told them it was my birthday.

  • star

    I’m going to be in JAL first class HND-SFO on my birthday! I’ll let you know if they do anything for me. 🙂 I love little birthday surprises!

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Mhennar – I would not expect a hotel restaurant to do so, normally it would be the front to desk which usually would have access to the date of birth from the registered guest either in advance through a profile or at check-in with ID.

  • P T

    I’ll be flying United across the pond and then Turkish on my BD in a few weeks and don’t expect anything. Especially from UA.

  • s r quadri

    9w , JET AIRWAYS INDIA
    Tk , Turkish airline . also wedding anniversary.
    Ek , Emirates

  • Svein

    I was flying Lufthansa in Economy IST-FRA-OSL on my birthday this year. Nothing happened on my first leg, which was a red-eye 5am flight. But on the second flight, FRA-OSL, the purser came up to me and asked if it indeed was my birthday and asked if Oslo was my final destination, and he came back with a big bottle of Cava for me.

    As a SAS EuroBonus Gold, I don’t think SAS would’ve given me anything, so I was surprised that Lufthansa did! It was an awesome surprise!

  • Menashe

    P T, Turkish offers a cake in all classes of service.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Svein – I will soon have my first SAS flights this month on short Nordic hops, then long-haul in January to Norway and Svalbard, quite happy that with my UA Platinum status the call center was able to give me great seats (MileagePlus award in coach).

  • Ron

    Flew UA and NH last week on my birthday, both in J. Despite being Global Services on UA – nada. But I was quite surprised when a bunch of ANA FAs showed up at my seat with a nice gift! It was not expected, and very memorable. Sheraton Sukhomvit Bangkok also had a cake waiting in my room, as did the Sheraton D-Cube Seoul last year, who were very memorable by having all the lounge staff sign and add personal notes to a birthday card! These are small things, but very memorable…

  • Svein

    @Rapid Travel Chai, I’m jealous! I have wanted to go to Svalbard a long time now, but every time I book, I have to cancel. Luckily SAS awards are fully refundable if you cancel more than 24hrs ahead.

    Don’t expect too much. The service onboard SAS has declined a lot in the past few years. In Plus class, you can even end up having a middle seat! Plus in Europe and domestic is still a better product than Economy, where you’d only get complimentary tea or coffee. The rest is BOB.

    If you’re in economy, you should use http://www.optiontown.com, and chances are great to be upgraded (to full-flex intra-Europe with full mileage) for little cash.

    Just ask if you’d need any tips from Oslo or Bergen. 🙂

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Svein – will optiontown work for a United MileagePlus booking on SAS?

    The Club Carlson credit card davaluation prompted me to go for it, and if I am going to Svalbard, why not go all in and visit in January?

    I will ask for tips as the trip approaches. 2 days Oslo, 2 days Svalbard and an overnight in Tromso due to flight schedule.

  • Svein

    January will probably be amazing, with 24 hour darkness, and high chances to see the northern lights…

    Unfortunately optiontown is only available on revenue-tikets. Not awards.

    If you’re able to get the awards refunded, you could buy a paid ticket on either SAS or Norwegian, or one way on each. The prices for January are pretty affordable. And you’d save your miles.

  • Shannon

    @RTC maybe you could invite Sven to write an article about his city? don’t have too much confidence and patience for your articles anymore so maybe it is a good alternative? And the previous guest posts were really interesting!

  • HB

    The American Club Kohler WI celebrates birthdays

  • John

    Confused

    Why would one prefer to go to Svalbard in the dead of winter instead of the middle of summer? Would seem to be awfully depressing at that time of year.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Shannon – I deserve it from you.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @John – mainly because I want to try 24-hour darkness once and see Northern Lights. It may be possible to do some kind of dimly lit snowmobile tour, according to the Bradt Svalbard guide. Also, within reasonable time and cost, activities are very constrained even in the best of weather, so I chose winter.