26th April is a big day for the new Taiwanese airline Starlux, it finally launched its first long-haul flight to Los Angeles, CA.
Starlux started operation at the beginning of 2020, it was the worst time in aviation history due to the pandemic. The airline persisted and now flies 20 brand new Airbus including 13 A321neo, 4 A330neo and 3 A350-900. Opening the first long-haul destination means Starlux can finally connect passengers between the U.S. and Asia.
I was invited by Starlux Airlines to be onboard this historical inaugural flight. My opinion remains independent. At the end of this trip report, I gave my own thoughts about them.
Video of my Starlux Flight
There is a ribbon cutting and speech delivery ceremony at the gate.
Many Avgeeks and passengers were actively participating in the fun event. It's been almost 3 years since I attended a launch flight like this. I almost forgot how fun it is!
VIP Service for First Class Passengers
Starlux Airlines First Class passengers can enjoy limo transfer and access to Huan Yu VIP Terminal which has private rooms and a separate immigration clearing facility.
Starlux Business Class Lounge - Galactic Lounge
This is a boutique size lounge in Terminal 1 of Taipei Taoyuan Int'l Airport.
There are decent F&B on offer including several on-demand menu items. Given the limited room, I think it may be more crowded in the morning.
Seating on Starlux A350-900
Configuration: F4C26W36Y240 total seats 306Starlux Airlines Airbus A350 Seat Maps. Provided by seatmaps.com
4 fully enclosed private suites in the front of the cabin. Note: no cabin divider or bulkhead between First and Business Class.
26 suites with privacy doors immediately behind First Class
32 deep recliner seats
240 seats in 2 cabins. Seat pitch: 32 inches
Onboard the Inaugural Flight of Starlux
I was lucky enough to be seated in First Class Suite 1G.
There are many amenities available exclusively to First Class passengers such as personal storage space, personal mini-bar, a unique amenity kit, pyjamas, slipper and wireless Bluetooth headset.
Flight JX002 Taipei to Los Angeles
The flight time is about 11 hours and 10 minutes with favorable tailwinds on Eastbound.
We flew over Japan and Northern Pacific at final cruising altitude of 39,000 ft.
What's interesting is the airline chairperson Mr. KW Chang personally flies the A350 on the inaugural flight as captain.
Starlux Airlines In-Flight Dining
Dining service starts immediately after take-off.
The dining service is fully on-demand.
In fact, there are 5 starters and 5 main course items on a very extensive menu (also available on IFE screen) to choose from.
I pre-ordered the Hutong Yakiniku style steak which is easily the best steak I've eaten on an airplane!
After the meal, I visited the rest of the cabin briefly and take note of the food service.
There are 3 main choices in Business Class dining but passengers can also pre-order their preferred meals online.
Onboard Wi-Fi has 3 options.
Chat is free for all passengers. Unfortunately, Wi-Fi availability was intermittent on this flight
Given it is a day flight, I slept about 2.5 hours and woke up again.
I tried out the snack menu and order a Boba latte which is fantastic.
There were a couple of small glitches in that my seat failed to recline after being upright. The crew has to reset it during the flight. The wireless Bluetooth headset also lost connection after 10 minutes and I have to replace it with the wired headset to enjoy the movie.
Before landing, a full breakfast was served. It wasn't the usual airline offering, there are plenty of choices.
At this point, I wasn't feeling hungry anymore but tried out just the dim sum platter.
Landing into Los Angeles was an exceptionally smooth one, which is the chairman's landing. Watch it on my video.
My Thoughts About the Flight
I think the overall product is fantastic onboard Starlux, it has advantage of using new airplanes and starts from a clean sheet design with no legacy issues. I am especially impressed with the details and soft products such as food and beverage, the wireless headset and the privacy features in premium classes.
The First Class Suite is a larger version of Business Class, some may even called it a Business Class Plus. What set the First Class apart is the exclusivity, ground service (limo transfer, VIP lounge) and amazing food and beverages. Without a divider or bulkhead, I did notice there are some noise coming from the galley and Business Class during meal times on the full inaugural flight.
I wish Starlux good luck, the airline needs to grab market share quickly and open up more U.S. destinations so they can build up connectivity between the U.S. and Asia. The chairman has mentioned the next destination is San Francisco by the end of this year, with Seattle next year. Starlux will receive the A350-1000 in early 2025. I have no doubt the competition is going to be fierce between the 3 Taiwanese full service carrier.
Video of my Starlux Flight
Los Angeles Event and Partner with Alaska Airlines
After landing, there is a ceremony at LAX about the inaugural flight.
Starlux has smartly teamed up with LA Dodgers and LA Clippers to celebrate the occasion. I believe some in-flight products from LA will feature the Dodgers and Clippers.
Starlux has also announced partnering with Alaska Airlines in the U.S.
Starting now, Alaska Mileage Plan members can now earn Alaska miles on their Starlux flights. Soon, they'll be able to redeem miles to book Starlux's transpacific flights to Taipei and other Asian destinations. Economy one-way redemption starts from 20,000 miles while Business Class can be redeemed with 60,000 miles.