Overview: Starlux Airways new enterprise class on the Airbus A350

Editors’ be aware: Starlux supplied TPG with a free round-trip business-class ticket for the inaugural U.S. route. All opinions expressed listed here are the writer’s alone and weren’t topic to assessment by Starlux.

As an aviation fanatic, there’s nothing extra thrilling than making an attempt a brand-new business-class product on a brand new airline startup.

This chance doesn’t come round regularly, particularly on an airline that claims it needs to be pretty much as good as Emirates.

But that’s precisely the expertise I had on Wednesday when Starlux Airways started flying to the U.S.

In case you’re not acquainted, Starlux is a brand new Taiwanese luxurious provider that commenced operations at maybe the worst potential time in industrial aviation historical past: January 2020.

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The upstart airline had been within the works since 2017 with ambitions to develop into a serious participant within the aviation market in Asia and past. Furthermore, the airline promised to raise the journey expertise for everybody, however notably in enterprise and top notch the place it launched an all-new long-haul product.


Whereas the pandemic put an almost three-year pause on Starlux’s plans, the provider is formally again in development mode now that world journey restrictions are within the rear-view mirror.

Starlux already flies from its Taipei hub to 16 widespread Asian locations, equivalent to Bangkok and Singapore, and on April 26, the airline began flying the Airbus A350-900 to Los Angeles, its first metropolis in North America.

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San Francisco will develop into the airline’s subsequent U.S. vacation spot later this yr, with others, together with presumably New York, coming in 2024 and past, Starlux’s chief technique officer Simon Liu advised TPG in an interview.


Ever since its inception, I’ve had Starlux on my radar, however now that it flies to the U.S., the airline is extra related than ever. Might the provider actually be pretty much as good as Emirates, or at the very least rival its top-notch Taiwanese opponents, China Airways and EVA Air?

Properly, after flying in enterprise class on the airline’s inaugural U.S. departure, I’ve a solution. Learn on to search out out.

Starlux Airways enterprise class reserving

Getting a ticket to fly Starlux Airways long-haul enterprise class is about to develop into rather more reasonably priced.

That’s as a result of the airline simply introduced a loyalty partnership with Alaska Airways, which means that you simply’ll have the ability to redeem Mileage Plan miles for Starlux flights starting later this summer time.

The introductory one-way redemption charges begin at 20,000 miles for economic system, 40,000 miles for premium economic system and 60,000 miles for enterprise class — implausible values in comparison with Starlux’s money fares. (Sadly, first-class awards by way of Alaska gained’t be accessible.)


It isn’t clear but how a lot companion award availability Starlux will launch, however hopefully, the airline will at the very least make awards accessible when it has unsold seats on the final minute.

In case you do find yourself splurging for a round-trip money ticket from L.A. to Taipei (which begins at round $5,500 in enterprise class and a whopping $18,000 in top notch), now you can credit score your flight to Mileage Plan.

Starlux’s COSMILE loyalty program will quickly permit mileage incomes and redemptions on Alaska, Liu stated, besides, most U.S.-based vacationers could be higher off banking miles with Mileage Plan.

Starlux isn’t at present a member of a serious airline alliance, although “becoming a member of an alliance is at all times our purpose,” stated Liu. Of the three main alliances, Starlux would appear to be finest suited to Oneworld, presumably as a “Join” member.


As talked about within the disclosure above, Starlux supplied TPG with a free round-trip business-class ticket for the inaugural L.A. to Taipei flight, however all opinions expressed listed here are mine alone.

Curiously, the first-class cabin went out utterly empty on my flight. I inquired a few last-minute improve on the check-in desk, hoping for the same end result to my latest Air France La Premiere expertise.

I used to be shocked when the agent advised me the astronomical charges:

  • Financial system to premium economic system: $1,000.
  • Premium economic system to enterprise class: $3,000.
  • Enterprise class to top notch: $5,000.

Suffice to say, I caught with enterprise class.

Starlux Airways enterprise class floor expertise

Whereas most flight experiences start on the check-in desk, this one was particular.

To rejoice the inaugural, Starlux hosted an invite-only media occasion on the Flight Path Museum and Studying Heart, which is situated adjoining to the overall aviation space of Los Angeles Worldwide Airport (LAX).

The occasion started with speeches from the airline’s chairman, CEO and different companions. The road that caught with me most was the chairman’s imaginative and prescient that “luxurious shouldn’t be the unique expertise of the elite however available to everybody [on Starlux].”

After the speeches, the airline previewed its upcoming tie-up with the Los Angeles Clippers and Dodgers. When the partnership begins in June, you’ll discover Clippers- and Dodgers-themed meals and branding all through the aircraft on flights from L.A. to Taipei.

Starlux’s rival EVA Air might have a devoted Hey Kitty aircraft, however that’s not stopping the startup provider from forging its personal distinctive partnerships.

The media occasion concluded with a stroll down the purple carpet to the two-week-old Starlux Airbus A350, registered B-58503, that had simply landed from Taipei and could be heading again there later that night with me onboard.

After a quick tour of the aircraft’s 4 cabins, I used to be much more excited for my 14-hour flight — the business-class seats seemed extra spectacular in individual than they did in renderings.


5 hours later, I used to be on my method to LAX’s Tom Bradley Worldwide Terminal to start the Starlux business-class expertise.

I rapidly discovered the airline’s check-in counters situated in row B — it was the one space with extra workers than passengers.


The precedence business-class counter had no line, and my boarding cross was issued inside a couple of minutes. (Simply be aware that Starlux’s check-in desks don’t open till about three hours earlier than the flight — some passengers bought there too early and had been annoyed by the wait.)

My solely gripe concerning the check-in expertise is that Starlux doesn’t but take part in TSA Precheck. The airline is supposedly engaged on a tie-in, however till then, you’ll have to clear commonplace safety at LAX, a course of that took me round half-hour as a consequence of how busy the terminal will get earlier than the late-night departure financial institution of transpacific flights.


As soon as airside, I made my method to the Oneworld business-class lounge, which is situated simply up a set of escalators in the primary departure corridor.

That’s the place Starlux’s business-class passengers can loosen up earlier than their flight, however I definitely wouldn’t advocate arriving early to camp on the market.

The excellent news is that with over 600 seats, the practically 42,000-square-foot lounge doesn’t undergo from overcrowding even throughout peak durations. There are many seating choices, starting from couches to particular person recliners to coworking tables.

You possibly can even loosen up on a round sofa surrounding an digital fire.

That stated, the remainder of the lounge expertise will be finest described as “adequate.” The buffet featured an assortment of three ready salads and three scorching entrees, none of which seemed too appetizing.

The loos and bathe rooms are situated within the far again nook of the lounge, and whereas they had been clear, they weren’t essentially the most spacious or luxurious.

So far as worldwide lounges at LAX go, this one is in the course of the pack. It’s not practically as drabby because the Korean Air lounge, but it surely’s additionally inferior to the Star Alliance Lounge, which options an outside terrace and extra pure mild.

I’ve heard significantly better issues about Starlux’s Galactic Lounge in Taipei, so I’m trying ahead to checking that out on my return journey.

I spent the remainder of my time earlier than the 12:10 a.m. boarding name wandering across the terminal, which I discover to be one of many nicest in America.

I bought to the gate a bit early to see if there have been any festivities happening, however apart from a couple of hanging posters, you wouldn’t have essentially identified that this was Starlux’s inaugural U.S. departure. I assume the airline stored the celebration restricted to the outbound service from Taipei (and the media occasion).


That stated, loads of passengers knew what was happening; many had been lined up in opposition to the glass home windows snapping photos of the aircraft. Some even got here from the alternative gate throughout the corridor — an EVA Air departure to Taipei — to seize some photographs, too.


The thrill continued as soon as I bought onboard, as I noticed lots of my fellow flyers taking movies and posing for photos within the new cabins.


As for me, my fast focus was on testing out each nook and cranny of this brand-new business-class product.

Starlux Airways enterprise class cabin and seat

Starlux’s Airbus A350 incorporates a single seven-row business-class cabin situated between the primary and second exit doorways on the aircraft.

The 26 seats are organized in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration, giving every flyer direct aisle entry with privateness.

Starlux determined to market the bulkhead row of the business-class cabin as top notch, however there are not any curtains separating the cabin. Quite, the 4 first-class suites are demarcated by greater privateness partitions and sliding doorways.

At first look, I used to be struck by how visually interesting the cabin was.

From the gold headrest accents to the illuminated seat quantity panels to the flower-themed design on the galley wall, Starlux enterprise class definitely exudes a way of understated luxurious.

Furthermore, the dimmable facet lamps at every seat contrasted superbly with the darkish grey and brown tones of the seat finishes.

Mixed with the temper lighting and the shortage of overhead bins above the middle seats, this is likely one of the nicest business-class cabins I’ve seen. (The one draw back is that the overhead bins above the window seats had been overstuffed.)

Don’t neglect to take a whiff of the cabin as soon as onboard — the airline partnered with fragrance producer P.Seven for a customized “Dwelling within the Air” perfume that it sprays onboard its planes.

Starlux is the launch buyer for Collins Aerospace’s new Components suite, and I used to be very impressed by the “exhausting product.” (The excellent news is that it’s coming to extra airways, together with the subsequent batch of Etihad Boeing 787 Dreamliners later this yr.)

Collins could also be finest identified for its widespread Tremendous Diamond seat discovered on many main airways, together with American and British Airways, however this next-generation product raises the bar for the business-class expertise.

Many points of the seat design will likely be acquainted in the event you’ve flown on Etihad’s Airbus A350 or within the British Airways Membership Suite.

The 21-inch-wide seat was comfy, and you might alter the seat and its lighting utilizing the 4.7-inch touchscreen panel situated on the armrest.

The seat additionally featured a novel “Zero-G” place, which was supposedly developed primarily based on NASA’s impartial physique posture specs to assist alleviate fatigue.

Identical to the Tremendous Diamond seat, there’s a small storage compartment that may be unlatched alongside the facet desk. It’s not that large or deep, so don’t count on to maintain greater than a pockets and AirPods inside it.


That stated, the brand new Starlux seat options one of many largest and deepest storage closets I’ve ever seen in enterprise class. It opens on the push of a button and has loads of room for your whole free gadgets. It may simply match an iPad, however not a laptop computer.

I cherished the gold-lined end, the built-in lamp and the big selfie mirror on this closet — three design selections that present Starlux actually paid consideration to the main points.


Lastly, there was a small, uncovered storage compartment alongside the facet of the seat close to the footwell and literature pocket, which was the right place to maintain my amenity equipment throughout the flight.


One other enchancment over the Tremendous Diamond seat was the armrest design, which not solely may very well be raised or lowered but it surely additionally may very well be moved ahead to enlarge the floor space of the mattress by at the very least six inches.

When it was time to sleep, the seat transformed right into a 77-inch-long mattress on the push of a button, however maybe the largest enchancment with the Components suite was the noticeably bigger footwell space.

Personally, I had no bother getting six hours of uninterrupted sleep throughout my flight.

Whereas many airways have put in doorways in enterprise class, the Starlux suite sports activities one of many tallest doorways I’ve seen. It rose 50 inches excessive from the ground.

I booked my flight on the final minute, and sadly, no window seats had been accessible. I wasn’t initially trying ahead to being a solo flyer sitting within the center part, however the privateness panel between the middle seats (which defaults into the locked place) stored me shielded from my neighbor your complete flight.


In truth, at 18 inches excessive, the privateness divider seemed to be a lot taller than many current merchandise within the skies.


Identical to the Tremendous Diamond seat, the bi-fold tray desk will be prolonged from beneath the leisure monitor. It measured 16 inches large and 18.5 inches lengthy, and I appreciated the faux-wood design that Starlux selected right here.

The Starlux A350 can be the primary of its form to function electronically dimmable home windows.


I performed round with the home windows whereas we had been on the bottom, and I discovered the slider controls to be intuitive and responsive, much more so than the comparable system on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.


Sadly, Starlux did not set up private air nozzles on its A350. The passenger service unit above every seat solely featured a light-weight and a digital seatbelt and a no-smoking signal.

With out overhead bins over the center seats, the studying lights shine from manner above, which may very well be distracting in case your neighbor makes use of their mild at evening.

There are three properly appointed toilets shared between the 30 first- and business-class passengers. Two of them are situated subsequent to row 8, so I’d keep away from seats 8D and 8G in any respect prices — the lavatory door primarily opens instantly into these seats.


The opposite bathroom is situated within the ahead galley. It’s a tiny bit bigger than the opposite two, however all three of them function touchless sinks, an association of inexperienced succulents and a few additional facilities, equivalent to Huygens hand cream and moisturizer, in addition to fabric towels and floss picks.

True to the airline’s mission, Starlux’s business-class seats are among the most luxurious within the sky. It might not be the Qatar Qsuite or ANA The Room, however Starlux enterprise class is definitely up there as top-of-the-line merchandise flying round.

Starlux Airways enterprise class facilities and IFE

Some airways introduce fancy new business-class seats after which drop the ball on the remainder of the expertise.

Starlux isn’t one in all them.

Ready at my seat throughout boarding was a gold-colored pillow and a supremely comfy cover that was simply as delicate because the purple blankets in Qatar’s Qsuite (that I think about to be among the many finest blankets within the sky).

A Bric’s-branded amenity equipment was additionally ready at my seat, and it was full of a bunch of goodies, together with pattern sizes of Huygens lip balm, hand cream and facial mist, together with a dental equipment, a Starlux-branded eye masks, socks, earplugs and a brush.

I additionally discovered a pair of disposable slippers tucked into the facet of the seat throughout boarding. They weren’t the fleece-lined Saks-branded ones you’d discover in United Polaris, however they did the trick.


When it was time to relaxation, a flight attendant turned my seat right into a mattress and positioned a thick mattress pad on the floor, which made it a lot simpler to nod off.

I used to be additionally provided a pair of comfy Starlux pajamas. At first look, I didn’t love the beige coloration, however I discovered that they match nicely and provided pockets within the pants — one thing that too many airways forgo of their pajama choices.

Every business-class suite featured a high-tech 24-inch 4K leisure display that was loaded with a number of content material.

There have been over 145 motion pictures, together with new releases equivalent to “The Fablemans” and “She Mentioned,” in addition to 77 TV present titles, together with “Tokyo Vice” and HBO’s “The Time Traveler’s Spouse.” The content material library wasn’t as sturdy as you’d discover on Emirates’ ICE or on Singapore’s KrisWorld, however you need to hopefully discover a couple of attention-grabbing issues to observe.

I loved enjoying round with the leisure software program. There was no lag in anyway, and it even provided some nifty options, equivalent to a digital foods and drinks menu.


My favourite function, nonetheless, was Bluetooth connectivity, which allowed me to pair my AirPods Professional wirelessly with none dongles.

Starlux additionally supplied a non-branded pair of energetic noise-canceling headphones, however they weren’t all that highly effective, and the sound high quality wasn’t pretty much as good as you’d discover on a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 or AirPods Max, for instance.


Whereas I primarily managed the display utilizing my finger, there was additionally a retractable trackpad distant constructed into the storage closet that you might use as an alternative.


I principally stored the display tuned to the FlightPath3D transferring map to trace our progress, although I used to be a bit upset that such a tech-forward airline opted to not set up a dwell tail cam.


However my greatest frustration with your complete flight expertise was the inoperable Wi-Fi. The “Galactic Wi-Fi” community appeared in my listing of obtainable networks, but it surely merely wouldn’t join.

The purser tried resetting the system a number of instances to no avail, and after the flight, I discovered that the Wi-Fi was damaged on the inbound from Taipei as nicely — the inaugural flight flown by the airline’s chairman, CEO and different senior firm officers.

Quick and dependable Wi-Fi is a must have in enterprise class lately, so hopefully Starlux can repair these points instantly.

I used to be impressed by the number of charging choices that Starlux put in, which included a common AC outlet, a 60-Watt USB-C fast-charging port, a USB-A charging port and a Qi-wireless charging pad — all situated within the storage closet.

Starlux Airways enterprise class meals and beverage

I wasn’t certain how Starlux’s culinary choices would stack up, however I landed in Taipei impressed with what I attempted.

Service started on the bottom with a refreshing pre-departure grape drink and a heat towel. I used to be then instructed to take a look at the menu and wine listing that was ready for me within the seat’s literature pocket.

Meal orders had been then collected on the finish of boarding, however the contents of the menu weren’t stunning to me.

That’s as a result of I went onto Starlux’s “handle my reserving” part of the web site a couple of days earlier than my flight to pick out my most popular entrees.

This wasn’t Singapore’s E book the Cook dinner providing the place you might pre-order off-menu gadgets. (The same service is obtainable on Starlux’s departures from Taipei.) As a substitute, it was a meal reservation system to ensure that you simply obtain your first entree selection.

After takeoff, flight attendants introduced round an amuse-bouche of sesame-crusted boursin cheese on a poppyseed bellini and a dried fig with bottarga cream cheese. This was served alongside a drink of selection — I attempted the Starlux signature gin-based cosmos cocktail, which was simply as refreshing because it seemed.

Following these mild bites, my desk was set, and the grilled shrimp salad starter was served.

After I completed the salad, a flight attendant got here round with a cappuccino mushroom soup, which was provided alongside a decide from the bread basket (sure, a literal basket with three bread choices).


I really like when airways provide soup in enterprise class — it reheats nicely and retains its taste at altitude — and this one was no exception.


At this level, I converted to Champagne, and I actually loved two glasses of the Bollinger Particular Cuvee NV Champagne, which retails for about $80 on the bottom.


Following the soup, my entrée was served. I pre-selected the braised Chilean sea bass, and it was about as completely ready as I’d count on from an upscale restaurant on the bottom.

The fish was flaky and cooked by, whereas the fried noodles weren’t too dry or overcooked.

I completed the meal with an apple pecan tart and a small fruit plate.


All in all, I completely loved the late-night dinner, and whereas I used to be considerably shocked there wasn’t an Asian menu accessible, the Western choices had been simply pretty much as good, if not higher, than what I’d count on from a top-notch European or Center Japanese provider.

Earlier than dozing off, I requested to take a peek on the snack basket, and I snagged some granola bars and Taiwan-made dried fruits.


I didn’t get up for the nice and cozy mid-flight snack service, however I personally don’t see the attraction in ordering a burger just some hours after a multi-course dinner. I in all probability would’ve gone with the wonton noodle soup possibility, however I used to be blissful to prioritize sleep over extra meals.

I did get up in time for breakfast service, which was served a full three hours earlier than touchdown.

There was an Asian menu accessible for breakfast, however I had preordered the chickpea quiche from the Western menu, considering that I might nonetheless be stuffed from dinner.


That proved to be the case, so I simply nibbled on the breakfast, which was served in three separate programs.

The smoked salmon appetizer salad was a really premium contact for an airplane breakfast – a meal that I usually skip due to poor high quality.


The quiche was additionally fairly tasty, although it definitely wasn’t value ending contemplating that I used to be about to have “actual” meals in Taipei upon arrival.


I had no qualms about having fun with the fruit plate – it had simply the correct quantity of fruit to offer a little bit of a sugar rush to get my day began.


Starlux Airways business-class service

What actually set the Starlux business-class expertise aside was the service, which in lots of instances felt extra like one thing you’d discover in worldwide first-class.

In fact, it’s potential that Starlux hand-picked the crew for this inaugural, however after talking to different flyers and studying extra concerning the airline’s crew tradition, I’m assured this service expertise wasn’t distinctive to my flight.


A lot of Starlux’s flight attendants come from different well-regarded airways, together with Emirates, Cathay Pacific and Qatar, so they’re already aware of elevated onboard service.

That, mixed with the excessive requirements that Starlux units, ought to make for a really nice flight.

As an illustration, all through the flight, I used to be constantly addressed as Mr. Griff, and the flight attendants constantly kneeled down to talk to me at eye stage. The crew rapidly caught on that I wish to drink quite a lot of water throughout long-haul flights, and my glass was constantly refilled each quarter-hour.

Furthermore, the primary meal service itself was served plate-by-plate versus by way of trays. That’s a premium contact that additional elevated the eating expertise.


I additionally actually preferred the design of the tableware and glassware, particularly the gold-colored bread plates, the Riedel glasses and the weighted salt and pepper shakers.

The service expertise wasn’t excellent, nonetheless. The crew may’ve communicated extra proactively concerning the inoperable Wi-Fi — it took practically 4 hours into the flight for the purser to make a PA announcement.


Plus, Starlux may benefit from a dine-on-demand idea in enterprise class, particularly given the late departure from Los Angeles. Some flyers might choose to move straight to mattress after departure, as an alternative of getting a giant meal service.

Starlux Airways enterprise class backside line

So, how does Starlux enterprise class stack up?

Properly, though it’s a brand-new airline, Starlux joins heavyweights like Qatar and ANA in providing one of many world’s finest business-class cabins.


The following-generation suites are spacious, comfy and personal, and the facilities, leisure and connectivity choices are fairly spectacular.

Coupled with stellar eating choices and a five-star crew, you’re poised to have an amazing flight in Starlux’s Airbus A350 enterprise class.

However now, you’ll have to excuse me — I’ve 14 hours’ value of emails and messages that want my consideration.

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