STARLUX A350-900 Business Class Bottom Line Review

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STARLUX Airlines is a new luxury airline headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan. They currently offer two routes to the US: Taipei to Los Angeles and Taipei to San Francisco. They also partner with Alaska Airlines, which makes it possible to book STARLUX flights with Alaska Mileage Plan miles. In July 2023, I booked LAX to Taipei and back in business class for two (my wife and me) when it was briefly possible to book those flights for 60,000 Alaska miles each way. Today, the same flights are sometimes available for 75K Alaska miles each way, but more often you’ll see the flight priced at 165K miles one-way.

STARLUX A350-900 Business Class Bottom Line Review

STARLUX A350 business class offers a terrific combination of top-notch service, excellent seat design, huge & beautiful in-flight entertainment screens, and luxury extras like fitted mattress padding, pajamas, and slippers.

  • How we found award space: In late July 2023, STARLUX awards between LAX and Taipei were briefly wide-open available for 60,000 points per person each way. I snagged these flights before the deal ended about two days later.
  • How we booked it: My wife and I each had about 120,000 Alaska miles in our accounts. That wasn’t enough to book the entire round-trip from one account so I booked the outbound flight for both of us with my miles and the return flight with her miles.
  • Cash Price: I didn’t look at the cash price at the time of booking, but I now see that STARLUX round-trip business class from LA to Taipei costs around $5,500. Since we paid 120,000 Alaska miles + ~$64 per person round-trip, we got a value of ~4.5 cents per mile.
  • Route:
    • Outbound: Los Angeles (LAX) – Taipei (TPE)
    • Return: Taipei (TPE) – Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Aircraft Flown: Airbus A350-900
  • Ground Service at LAX:
    • Check-in: We checked-in online and connected from a Delta flight and brought only carry-on luggage. So, we never saw the in-person check-in.
    • Departure Lounge: Oneworld / Qantas International Business Lounge. I’m not a fan of this lounge: it’s very dark and often crowded. We have oneworld Emerald status, which would usually mean that we could enter the first class lounge rather than the business class lounge, but we would have had to have been flying a oneworld airline for that to work. Since STARLUX isn’t a oneworld airline, we could only get into the business class lounge. We could have alternatively gone to the Amex Centurion Lounge since we have Platinum cards, but we found a comfortable couch in the Qantas lounge and settled in.
    • Walk to gate: Our flight boarded from gate 221 which was a long walk from the Qantas lounge (about 15 minutes if you walk slowly), but LAX has golfcart drivers available to take passengers part of the way.
    • Boarding: The gate area was huge, with plenty of seating and so there were no crowds blocking the boarding area. Business class boarding was efficient and easy.
  • Ground Service at TPE:
    • Check-in: STARLUX operates flights to the U.S. out of TPE terminal 2. We had to ask the information desk to find the STARLUX counter (aisle 8, if I recall). STARLUX had separate lines for business and first class. There was no wait to check in for business class. We checked our bags for the return flight.
    • Departure Lounge: STARLUX has a new and very nice (if you like sci-fi, which I do) spaceship themed “Galactic Lounge” in terminal 2. Many of the food and drink offerings are local to Taiwan, which is a great touch. Unfortunately, we had just had a huge meal before coming to the airport so we didn’t try any of the lounge food.
    • Walk to gate: The departure gate was very close to the lounge.
    • Boarding: Business class boarding was efficient and easy.
  • Business Class Seat: The seats are comfortable and stylish. All of the seats have privacy doors, and middle seats have privacy partitions to maintain privacy both to your right and left. In fact, the privacy partition worked a little too well: when we slid it open it was still not easy to see each other unless we were both sitting upright. We found the seats very comfortable for both sitting and sleeping. At bed-time the flight attendants made up our seats with fitted padding. And, unlike most business class padding, this was thick enough to make the seat actually pretty comfortable as a bed! Storage options are decent, but not great — about the same as found in most modern business class seat designs.
  • In-Flight Entertainment: Very good. The screens are huge and bright. The movie and TV show selection was fine, but not nearly as extensive as I’ve seen on some other airlines.
  • Internet: Internet is free for business class passengers, but it was slow and unreliable.
  • Food and Beverage: Surprisingly, in my opinion the food was just okay. It was fine, but nothing jumped out as particularly good or great. I heard that the mid-flight burger was very good, but I didn’t try it. I didn’t try any of the alcohol options, but they do offer very cool sounding cocktails that I expect are very good. Another bright spot: the coffee was excellent. I ordered cappuccinos and my wife ordered lattes. Both were terrific.
  • Service: Service was terrific. Flight attendants were extremely attentive and quick to respond to any requests I made. At bed-time they made up our seats with very comfortable fitted padding. The only very minor service issue was that they were rarely proactive about removing trash. On both flights I often moved trash from my side table to my food tray table so that it would be removed with whatever food or drink items I was finished with. My wife experienced the same issue and so I know that it wasn’t just me. The service otherwise was so great that I have to imagine that they made a deliberate decision to favor avoiding interrupting passengers over clearing trash. Anyway, it’s such a minor thing that I definitely wouldn’t worry about it.
  • Would I choose to fly it again? You bet! We had two excellent flights and would be very happy to fly STARLUX again.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Beautiful cabin & seats
  • Fantastic service
  • Seats are very comfortable for sitting
  • Seats are very comfortable for sleep
  • Bedding includes fitted mattress pad thick enough to actually make a difference
  • Suites have doors
  • All business class passengers are automatically given slippers & pajamas
  • Massive high quality entertainment screens
  • Excellent headphones
  • Entertainment screens can be paired with bluetooth headphones
  • Wireless charging
  • All business class passengers get free in-flight internet

Cons

  • Food was just okay.
  • Suites are a little too private for couples travelling together even when the partition is opened.
  • I’d prefer more seat storage
  • In-flight internet was slow and spotty (we lost internet occasionally)
  • In-flight entertainment did not offer as many English-language movies and TV shows as is found on many other carriers.
  • Removing trash didn’t seem to be a priority

How STARLUX compares to Qatar QSuites

Before flying STARLUX , my favorite business class experience was with Qatar’s QSuites (see my QSuites review here). So, how did STARLUX compare?

  • STARLUX’s boarding process at LAX was way better than Qatar’s confusing business class boarding at JFK.
  • The quality of the flight attendant service was similarly great, but Qatar’s was slightly better because they proactively removed trash.
  • Both flights offer great entertainment screens, but STARLUX’s was probably a bit bigger and nicer. On the other hand, I think that Qatar may have had a better TV and movie selection (I’m not 100% sure about that, though)
  • Suite quality: tie. I found both the QSuites & STARLUX seats to be stylish and comfortable both for sitting and sleeping.
  • Traveling together: QSuites was way better for enjoying the flight with a partner. In fact, at bedtime on QSuites, they removed the partition between seats completely and made up our seats as a double bed! Meanwhile, on STARLUX we could barely see each other when sitting and definitely couldn’t see each other when laying down.
  • Food: QSuites was better.

Overall, if I had to pick a winner, I’d go with QSuites. That said, they’re both fantastic business class options.

Image Gallery

Seat and Cabin

The privacy partition between middle seats is a little too effective. This photo shows my (lack of) view of my wife when the partition was open and both of our seats were reclined a bit. When we were both seated fully upright, we could see each other better.
Seat controls. The squiggly yellow lines show that I had the seat’s massage function set to high. I like that there’s a one-button “Zero G” setting which was nice when I didn’t want the seat to be 100% flat.
The fitted seat padding was thick enough to actually make the seat comfortable as a bed when laid flat and it was pretty darn comfortable when seated upright too.

Dining

Welcome drink (non alcoholic) and damp towel. Flight attendants brought damp towels to us at least 3 times during the flight.
Dinner menu LAX to Taipei
Steak tenderloin. It was very tender, but was prepared “medium” (I prefer medium-rare).

Asian breakfast on flight from Taipei to LAX

Menu Taipei to LAX

Technology

Free internet for all business class passengers. Internet was slow and spotty, though.
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24 Comments
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Amy

Do we get to keep the pajamas?

MFK

Appreciate the review. I booked a round trip for next month when the Alaska 60k deal was still available.

Chris

Greg, what was the process for seat selection and managing your reservation with Starlux? I booked a trip booked in June for SFO-TPE thanks to the FM post of released award availability for 75k miles. Excited to hear more about your trip!

TimR

You need to call Starlux to assign seats

sirCharges

Be aware of this with Starlux seat assignments:

Booked US East coast <-> Taiwan via Alaska Airlines coach class N seat with cash. Called Starlux to get seat assignment for the Starlux leg (SFO<->TPE) but was told no seat assignment is possible until 24 hours before departure time.

Also not possible to select seat on their website with confirmation code.

Chris

Thanks! I called and was able to get seat assignment. I was surprised they didn’t offer that functionality without calling.

Tony

My understanding is that JX has trouble selling its J seats for cash, so I expect there will continue to be plenty of available J seats for redemption with AS miles. I also expect JX award seats will be among the first to be discounted when AS runs its expected periodic award sales (i.e. selling award seats at a discount to its new award chart), so 60k miles in J is likely to return at some time later this year.

JX also heavily relies on connecting passengers at TPE. With its very limited route network, it needs partners more than almost any other airlines in that part of the world. It desperately wants to join Oneworld. If CX decides to leave Oneworld (a possibility if CA acquires a bigger stake in CX), and if JX survives, we may be able to redeem AA miles for JX seats. There’re a lot more of us with a lot more AA miles (than AS miles) to help fill those JX seats. 🙂

Last edited 2 months ago by Tony
SamBam

Hope you loved Taiwan. 台灣萬歲

David Brown

I am American and live in Asia. I have been wanting to try Starlux for several years and missed the small window for cheap business class Alaska miles tickets. However, I just watched a horrific Starlux review on YouTube from someone traveling from SFO to TPE to MNL. Their flight out of SFO was cancelled after departure time. At 3am and standing in line for 1.5 hrs, they were basically told,”give us your contact info and someone will call you.”

It definitely will make me think twice about flying with a small carrier like this that does not have many resources to rebook passengers.

hurijo

You didn’t go for the boba milk tea!?

Mrredskin

Good review. I’ll be on one in 3 weeks so glad to get an idea of what to expect

Dom

It’s STARLUX and oneworld. And I’m willing to bet that the oneworld J lounge was not crowded during at least three hours before JX’s late night departure.

Jackie Daytona

Flew EVA to Taipei and Starlux back. Both were excellent, but I’d be more excited to fly Starlux again in the future. If EVA was an 8.5 the Starlux flight was a 9.

Christian

You should give EVA a shot sometime. A lot of the same plusses with a better seat on the 777.

Christian

I don’t believe so. The Hello Kitty 777-ER from Chicago to Taipei.

Christian

My interest is more on comfort than technology. The 777 seats are wide and roomy. Then again I’m tall so my priorities may differ from yours. For what it’s worth, my wife has flown a fair number of first class flights and still adores EVA’s 777 as well.

Tristan

The food on EVA is ridiculously good!

FLIR

It looks like a solid J product, but not at 175K miles. Good luck finding more than one seat at the lower price. F