Is Starlux the New-and-Improved EVA Air?

Is Starlux the New-and-Improved EVA Air?

When it comes to the relatively recent launch of Starlux Airlines, there are two stories. The one above the fold isn’t especially salacious: A third full-service airline has launched in Taiwan, and has grand plans.

Dig deeper, however, and some intrigue builds. The man who launched Starlux is the son of the man who founded the Evergreen Group, parent company of EVA Air. His ouster from what was effectively his family business was not friendly, to say the least.

I mention this not to dwell on drama, but to set up that there is reason to think comparing Starlux vs EVA Air is a productive endeavor (beyond, you know, the fact that they’re aiming similar products at similar customer bases).

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The Fascinating EVA-Starlux Backstory

As I hinted in the intro, the question of Starlux or EVA Air is a bit meta. While other outlets will tell the story much more in-depth than I care to do now, here is a summary of how drama at EVA let to the formation of Starlux:

  • Chang Kuo-wei, whose father founded EVA’s parent company The Evergreen Group, ended up being forced out against his will in a cutthroat succession battle.
  • Instead of getting mad, Kuo decided to get even. Having left Evergreen in early 2016, Chang had by the end of 2017 conceptualized Starlux as the “Emirates of Taiwan.”
  • Rather than simply wanting to upstage EVA (let alone China Airlines) in terms of quality, he seemed most intent on changing the impression both locals and foreigners have of Taiwanese aviation being the safe.

Had East Asia not reacted to covid-19 as it did, Starlux’s route network be much closer to EVA’s than it is now. Whether it ever gets there after Taiwan being sealed off for three years? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.


Ways to Compare Starlux with EVA Air

Business class seats

Both EVA and Starlux offer different business class seats on different products. For longhaul flights, however, it’s more simple. Starlux’s A350 flagship aircraft offer modified reverse herringbone seats with doors, and walls so high they’re essentially private suites. While EVA Air deploys its 787-10s (with a staggered product) on some long haul flights, the majority of them are served by 777-300ERs featuring first-generation reverse herringbone seats.


Another way to compare Starlux and EVA Air is the food. On one hand, Starlux does not (at least as of 2024) offer anything close to EVA’s rack of lamb, which can still only be ordered exclusively via the “Book the Cook” feature. On the other hand, I’ve always found even EVA’s special items slightly overrated; they’re certainly no better than the braised pork or congee I enjoyed on my recent Starlux flight from Taipei to San Francisco.


I’ll be frank: Every single airline lounge at Taoyuan Airport leaves something to be desired. Both EVA lounges I’ve been to featured tacky design and disappointing food; if I’m frank, the EVA Air Lounge at Bangkok is the only one operated by the airline I’ve ever really enjoyed. Starlux’s Galactic Lounge has many deficiencies too, though I do have to commend the design and the extent to which the “Galactic” theme is carried through.

Loyalty program and alliances

If this is the metric by which you’re comparing EVA Air vs Starlux, then it’s not even closed. EVA is a member of Star Alliance, which means it’s easy to earn (and reasonably easy to redeem, depending on the route) miles for travel on EVA Air; it’s possible to incorporate EVA Air flights into Star Alliance itineraries that connect Taiwan with virtually everywhere in the world. This is not the case for Starlux, whose only current partner is Alaska Airlines.

Routes and connectivity

As of 2024, Starlux has a modest route network, which primarily serves to connect Southeast Asia (Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and others) and Japan (almost a dozen cities) with the US West Coast via Taiwan. EVA Air, by contrast, serves half a dozen cities in North America, a few in Australasia and several in Europe, as well as so many regional routes throughout East and Southeast Asia I’d say they’re on the cusp of being a truly global airline.


Is Starlux Better Than EVA Air?

Starlux, as I explained in my dedicated review of the airline, has a lot going for it. Its flight attendants are exceptional; the food and drink are very good, and the seat (at least on the A350) is the best currently offered by any Taiwanese airline. On the other hand, Starlux has major limitations in terms of its route network; if you aren’t traveling between Taiwan and East/Southeast Asia and the US, you’re likely out of luck.

Indeed, at this point I’d say that for most travelers, the decision of EVA Air or Starlux will come down as much to objective quality as it does convenience. If you’re flying to or from LA and have already flown EVA, I’d say it’s worth checking out Starlux, if only as a data point for yourself. On the other hand, if your destined for or coming from Australia or Europe, EVA Air and China Airlines are your only options.

Other FAQ About EVA Air and Starlux

Is Starlux part of EVA?

Starlux Airlines has no affiliation with EVA Air. Well, apart from the fact that it was founded by the former chairman of EVA’s parent Evergreen Group, Chang Kuo-wei. Chang launched Starlux not so much to compete with EVA on service, but in order to dispel notions about Taiwanese aviation being unsafe.

Who is the sister company of EVA Air?

EVA’s parents company is the Evergreen Group, which operates in businesses ranging from shipping and logistics to hotels. Its domestic subsidiary is UNI Air, which flies to almost all domestic airports in Taiwan from its base at Songshan Airport.

How is Starlux doing?

Starlux is not as far along in its business development as its management had probably hoped it would be now, due in large part to Taiwan’s foolish decision to close its border for nearly three years in response to covid-19. Still, for an airline that’s been in business for half a decade, it offers a relatively impressive route network and a competitive onboard product, particularly in premium classes of service.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to Starlux vs EVA Air, I’m not sure there’s a clear winner. Starlux is a compelling new airlines with a fabulous onboard product and even better service; while its current network is limited, it has extremely ambitious expansive plans. EVA Air can take you from Taiwan to many more places than Starlux, and for better or for worse has a much more established brand and reputation. However, its aging 777s desperately need an upgrade, which could be years away. Regardless, once you decide which airline to fly to Taiwan and back, I do hope you’ll consider hiring me to plan your trip.


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