What Is It Like to Fly STARLUX Business Class on Its Airbus A350?
Our review of the inaugural flight aboard the boutique Taiwanese airline's brand-new Airbus A350-900
January 24, 2024
STARLUX, a boutique airline, has gained popularity in both the United States and Asia following its 2018 launch. The former chairman of EVA Air is at the helm of the new carrier. Although Starlux originally planned to expand to the U.S. sooner, the pandemic caused delays.
The Taiwan-based carrier dubs itself a luxury airline, which starkly contrasts with other new airlines that have popped up, including Iceland-based PLAY and Tokyo-based ZipAir.
Its first U.S. route from Los Angeles (LAX) to Taipei (TPE) debuted last year—it was a major milestone for the airline and all travelers seeking a luxury long-haul flight experience to Asia.
The Taiwanese airline has added a new U.S. route to its repertoire. The inaugural flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Taipei took off, and I decided to head onboard its sleek A350-900 aircraft to experience its gorgeous business class cabin firsthand.
This is STARLUX’s second U.S. route, and the airline has plans to continue expanding within the U.S. and Asia over the next few years. The new route is commemorative for travelers looking to fly comfortably to Asia and competes with other U.S. carriers to offer an ultra-luxe experience at a reasonable price point. Starlux has called itself the ‘Emirates of Asia,’ so it only makes sense that I had high expectations for the onboard experience.
With the milestone flight, STARLUX’s partnership with Alaska Airlines was on full display. The cooperation gives STARLUX and Alaska Airlines passengers access to destinations across the United States and Asia through their expansive route networks.
With a beautiful cabin, lie-flat seats with fully closing doors, and luxe La Mer amenity kits, the airline provides a superb experience for the 14-hour transpacific journey. I arrived at SFO’s International Terminal at a balloon-filled check-in counter with a plush carpet waiting for me at the dedicated Business Class lane.
Boarding and Cabin
Since this was the inaugural flight, a ceremony took place at the gate with speeches by the CEO of STARLUX, Glenn Chai, alongside the Regional Vice President of Alaska Airlines, Neil Twaites, and San Francisco International Airport’s Director of Aviation Marketing and Development, Melissa Andretta.
There were STARLUX-branded deserts and tons of decorations at the gate. Once the ceremony commenced, the boarding process began. It was quick and organized and started with boarding for loyalty members and first, and business class passengers.
The cabin was luxurious, with four first class seats in the first row and 26 business-class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
All the seats were placed in a herringbone layout with direct aisle access. Every seat was decked with a plush blanket, slippers, a limited edition La Mer skincare set, a Brics amenity kit, and a pillow.
Flight attendants were attentive from the moment I stepped onboard, offering me a welcome drink and assistance with my bags. After getting settled, the journey to Taipei began.
After takeoff, pajamas were given to all business and first class passengers, and it was a super relaxing 14 hours.
Once the dinner service commenced, the flight attendants set my seat into a bed with a lush mattress cover. The cabin lights dimmed after dinner service; I closed my eyes and slept for more than 8 hours without waking up until the cabin lights were turned on for breakfast.
Before the dinner service, my tray table was set, and I was given a hot scented towelette to freshen up for the dinner service ahead. While the airline does offer dishes (including A5 Wagyu) by Michelin-starred chef Lam Ming Kin, they are only available on departures from Taipei.
The service from San Francisco began with bread service, salad, and soup, followed by entree options, including a perfectly cooked tenderloin, baked salmon, and braised abalone and chicken. It ended with fresh fruit, assorted ice cream, or local sweets.
During the flight, light bites and an assortment of packaged snacks were available for passengers to request at their leisure. We had breakfast before landing, and I enjoyed a fruit plate with yogurt, bread, and juice. There were other intricate options for passengers, including egg dishes and other traditional Asian foods.
Overall, the food was incredible, and the onboard service was impeccable. It was made obvious throughout the service that each meal was individually plated according to your preferences.
My seat faced forward in a private nook by the window. It had ample space with lots of storage, including many hidden compartments. After dinner, I used the customizable buttons to turn my seat into a ‘Zero-G’ position, designed to reduce fatigue on long haul journeys, to watch T.V. on the massive 4K 24-inch screen.
When I was ready for bed, I switched my seat to a lie-flat position for sleep.
Since the cabin is so high-tech, there is a massage function in the seat, Bluetooth capabilities, wireless charging, auto-dimmable windows, and fast wifi (complimentary for first and business class passengers). It made the onboard experience seamless and made it easy to stay connected through the long-haul flight.
Overall, the onboard experience was one of the best long-haul flights ever. The service was impeccable, the high-technology features were well thought out, and the seat was super comfortable with tons of space. I could have easily done this flight for a longer duration.
With all the thoughtful details, luxe amenities, and fantastic overall onboard experience, I’ll be flying the airline anytime I need to head to Asia.