A Sober Starlux Review

A Sober Starlux Review

Taiwanese start-up carrier Starlux may be the most-hyped airline of all time. Even before it launched, miles and points bloggers (one who shall go unnamed in particular) made it seem as if the entire industry would be shaped once the first plane with a JX callsign took off from Taoyuan Airport.

Now, I’m not totally jaded. As details about Starlux’s networks plans (and especially its onboard product and service) began leaking, I got excited. Then, just weeks after Starlux began intra-Asia service, covid-19 (and, more importantly, irrationality and hysteria) spread around the world.

Like many other content creators, my Starlux business class review has necessarily been years in the making. Unlike most of them, however, I’m taking a sober look at the airline—which, will certainly excellent and with potential to be industry leading, is far from a perfect 10 at the outset.

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How I Finally Found My Way Into Starlux Business Class

I’d originally been planning to fly Starlux business class in late 2023. I had planned to visit Taipei for Pride that year, and had managed to score one of the few seats released when the airline’s partnership with Alaska Airlines went live that summer. Unfortunately, I ended up having to cancel that trip, by which time most Starlux seats had more than doubled in price when booked via Alaska MileagePlan.

Thankfully, as I began plotting out my travel for 2024, I noticed that some “Saver” seats were available at the end of June, when I expected to be in Taiwan following a road trip along Japan’s Sanriku Coast. I booked this in January or February; at the end of June, I was finally on the cusp of my journey. I was excited, but skeptical (as every good reviewer of any product or service should be).

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly of Starlux Business Class

Starlux Galactic Lounge


“Make sure you check out the lounge,” a fellow #AvGeek (who happens to be Taiwanese) informed me, when I told him I’d be making my maiden voyage on Starlux later that evening. While certain aspects of the so-called Galactic Lounge suggested he was onto something, it was disappointing overall.

Starlux gets many design points, from the accidentally-Wes-Anderson color scheme (which just so happened to match my outfit), to the retro-futuristic costumes the staff were wearing, to the music, which was pleasantly dystopian—it sounded like something I might’ve heard watching the first season of “Severance.” However, the lack of a full service bar was inexcusable, as was the fact that one of the airport’s two lounges—one half of Starlux lounges, overall—were closed.

Starlux ground services in Taipei

The next important point I was to use my Starlux business class review to highlight is the non-lounge experience on the ground. Starlux had a decent number of check-in stations for an airline of its size, though I didn’t end up needing to avail them—I didn’t check bags.

Boarding, on the other hand, was late and proceeded somewhat chaotically, with many of my fellow business class passengers confused as to whether or not it was our turn. I’ll admit that as I walked down the jet bridge toward the plane (assuming there was one—Taoyuan’s windows are often so dirty you can’t tell), I feared the worst.


Starlux business class seat

Imagine my surprise, then, when I arrived onboard not only to find a seat that was much larger (i.e. more spacious, and with higher walls) than I expected, but also assertive, impeccably groomed flight attendants who spoke perfect English—but more on them in a second.

As is often the case with business class seats equipped with doors, mine didn’t close until after we reached closing altitude, though I had plenty to occupy my time until that point, from the bizarre safety video, to the digital window dimmer (which is rare on the A350, but was ultimately pointless since it was nearly midnight), to the stylish amenity kit, which was admittedly more impressive from the outside than the products it contained were.

Starlux business class service

As I mentioned in the previous section of this Starlux review, the cabin crew were excellent—I wondered, almost immediately, whether they’d been poached from EVA Air or China Airlines, or maybe even from Emirates or Qatar. More than one gave me a personalized greeting within a minute of me boarding, and all addressed me by my last time several times throughout the flight. They also weren’t wearing masks, in contrast to crew on a recent EVA Air flight, who were still trapped in 2020.

Another thing I noticed? The turndown service was not only quick (I requested it before I got up to go to the bathroom; it was finished by the time I got back); the bed was impeccably made, with not a single fiber out of place. I almost didn’t want to get in and mess it up!


Starlux business class food and beverage

From the flute of champagne I was offered upon boarding (and which was refilled countless times throughout the flight), to the technicolor (but tasty) Cosmo 2.0, to multiple rocks glasses filled with Bailey’s on the Rocks as I came to after three solid hours of sleep, the Starlux onboard bar was exquisite. The food was nice, too—I chose the Taiwanese menu, which featured braised pork for dinner and congee for breakfast—though the lackluster dessert (vanilla ice cream with fresh fruit) failed to tie it all up in any kind of ribbon.

One thing I did like, however, was that the massive screen (which must be at least as big as the one in ANA’s The Room) allowed me to multitask with ease. Starlux’s branded noise-cancelling headphones made the seat’s Bluetooth feature moot—who would choose AirPods over those?

The entertainment selections, as is the case on most East Asian airlines, left a lot to be desired. I did, however, manage to watch the new Anne Hathaway-Jessica Chastain vehicle “Mother’s Instinct” a month before its stateside release. Though I did intermittently connect to Starlux’s free in-flight messaging, it was slow enough that I didn’t bother purchasing internet, which was sold in 10 MB blocks that made it seem pointless that it was offered at all.

How to Book Starlux Business Class

As I hinted at a few paragraphs up, the only realistic way to book Starlux biz using points is via Alaska Airlines MileagePlan. As of 2024, “Saver” tickets between the US and Taiwan cost 75,000 points, while “Standard” ones start at 175,000 points. While rates are cheaper for intra-Asia routes, do note that with the exception of TPE-SIN and select TPE-NRT services, these are on different aircraft with an inferior hard product.

This may change in the near future, as Starlux may be on the cusp of joining the oneworld alliance. In the meantime, however, the only other realistic way to book Starlux business class is buying it outright. Direct services to and from Taiwan are exorbitantly priced, but you can sometimes find reasonable fares between Southeast Asia and the US (but not the other way around). I’ve seen round-trips priced at 3,000 USD, and sometimes slightly less.

Other FAQ About Starlux Business Class

Is Starlux a luxury airline?

As its name suggests, Starlux has explicitly positioned itself as a luxury airline. While this is most noticeable in business or first class, even passengers traveling in economy will notice elevated food, service and cabin finishes when compared to many other airlines. It remains to be seen whether this is in part or completely due to the newness of the airline, or if it ends up being sustainable long-term.

Is Starlux a budget airline?

Starlux is not a budget airline in the sense that it is neither run nor marketed as a low-cost airline. With this being said, it is possible to find low fares on Starlux, particularly when routing between Southeast Asia and the US via Taipei.

What is the layout of Starlux business class?

Starlux’s business class is in a 1-2-1 layout on its A350 aircraft (which featured modified reverse-herringbone seats with doors) and on its A330s, which are in a staggered configuration. Its A321 business class is in 2-2 configuration, which is less private, though the seats do extend into fully flat beds.

The Bottom Line

I hope you’ve found my Starlux business class review helpful, and not too cynical. To be perfectly clear, I loved my flight, from the professional and attentive service, to the excellent seat, and from the delicious food to the surprisingly expansive selection of inflight entertainment. My main complaints have to do with the lounge at Taoyuan Airport, as well as the limited current scope of Starlux’s operations and the fact that it has only one partner airline at the moment. Nevertheless, it’s a great way to travel to or from Taiwan—particularly if you combine your flight with a custom Taiwan itinerary, planned by me.


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