Airlines

What It's Like to Fly Taiwan's New Luxury Carrier Starlux

Chris Dong

Chris Dong

February 9, 2024

9 min read

Table of Contents

Founded in 2018, Taiwan-based Starlux is a newer entrant into the industry, offering both short-haul service within Asia and long-haul service to the US. While most US travelers won’t recognize the name Starlux, the carrier has lofty ambitions to eventually become a powerhouse—and a premium brand—across the Pacific. 

What’s Starlux?

Starlux’s origin story as a luxury-focused airline is a fascinating one. The airline’s founder, Chang Kuo-wei, is the former chairman of EVA Air, a well-regarded carrier based in Taipei. In a world of newer, no-frills carriers—such as Tokyo-based ZipAir or Oslo-based Norse Atlantic—Kuo-wei’s Starlux is bucking the trend. The carrier bills itself as a luxury airline, having thrown around the phrase “the Emirates of Asia.” 

What we love about Starlux: 

  • Premium-focused carrier with quality service, comfortable seats, and high-end cuisine across all cabins 
  • A small, but rapidly expanding network of routes in Asia and across the Pacific 
  • Frequent flyer partnership with Alaska Airlines 

What we don’t love about it:

  • Not part of any major airline alliance (Oneworld, Star Alliance, SkyTeam)
  • Pricing is sometimes steeper than competitors (although Going can find you a deal) 
  • Nonstop US service is limited to the West Coast 

Founded in: 2018
Hub cities: Taipei, Taiwan (TPE)
Fleet: 13 Airbus A321, 4 Airbus A330neo, 4 Airbus A350
Subsidiaries: N/A
CEO: Glenn Chai
Alliance: N/A
Nonstop routes: 23 international
On-time rating: 80%
Nationality: Taiwanese
International classes of service: First, business, premium economy, economy (Airbus A350); Business, economy (all other aircraft)

A brief history of Starlux 

Founded by Chang Kuo-wei, Starlux was born out of a family power struggle. Kuo-wei’s late father, Chang Yung-far, is the founder of Star Alliance carrier EVA Airlines. When Yung-far passed in 2016, a family battle erupted, pushing Kuo-wei out of the company. A mere two years later, Starlux was born. While Kuo-wei says that Starlux isn’t an airline created out of revenge, the narrative is compelling. The airline’s first-ever flight was in January 2020, but it had to suspend operations just weeks later due to the pandemic. Current US routes include service between San Francisco (SFO) and Taipei (TPE) and Los Angeles (LAX) and Tapiei (TPE). 

Where Starlux flies

mapof Starlux routes

Starlux operates 21 routes across Asia along with two routes to the US, all from its hub in Taipei. 

Intra-Asia routes: 

  • Fukuoka, Japan (FUK)
  • Hakodate, Japan (HKD)
  • Kumamoto, Japan (KMJ)
  • Nagoya, Japan (NGO)
  • Okinawa, Japan (OKA)
  • Osaka, Japan (KIX) 
  • Sapporo, Japan (CTS)
  • Sendai, Japan (SDJ)
  • Tokyo, Japan (NRT)
  • Macau, Macau (MFM)
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (KUL)
  • Penang, Malaysia (PEN)
  • Cebu, Philippines (CEB)
  • Clark, Philippines (CRK)
  • Manila, Philippines (MNL)
  • Singapore, Singapore (SIN)
  • Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand (CNX)
  • Da Nang, Vietnam (DAD)
  • Hanoi, Vietnam (HAN)
  • Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (SGN)

US routes 

  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)

Starlux’s hubs

  • Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE)
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Tips for booking a Starlux flight

Using the monthly fare calendar

Starlux fare calendar

To get the best deal, head to Starlux’s website and use the monthly fare calendar feature in the search box. This will allow you to compare pricing across a range of dates, up to one month. This is particularly helpful for travelers who have flexibility in their travel schedules. 

Leverage lower fares with fewer frills

starlux fare types

Depending on your travel needs, you can select a fare with fewer frills to save on the cost of a flight. Starlux is a full-service carrier, meaning you’ll still get a complimentary checked bag, carry-on, meals, entertainment, and more. However, with a more restrictive fare, you won’t receive full mileage credit, and changes may come with a penalty, among other items. 

Mixed cabin bookings

mixed cabin booking on starlux

If you don’t mind flying one direction in a more inferior cabin and one direction in a more premium cabin, it’s possible to save by mixing and matching fares. 

Starlux fare types

The airline offers four different economy fare classes available for purchase, from a “limited” fare to a “full” fare. Meanwhile, both premium economy and business have three fare classes.  

For economy passengers, each fare class includes at least one piece of checked baggage, one carry-on and personal item, and seat selection for a fee. All premium economy and business passengers — regardless of fare class — have two free checked bags, one carry-on, and a personal item. 

Economy fare class details: 

  • “Limited” fares include one piece of checked baggage (up to 50 pounds), one carry-on bag and personal item, free texting, seat selection for a fee, and 0% mileage earning when crediting to Starlux. 
  • “Saving” fares include two pieces of checked baggage (up to 50 pounds), one carry-on bag and personal item, free texting, seat selection for a fee, and 60% mileage earning when crediting to Starlux. 
  • “Basic” fares include two pieces of checked baggage (up to 50 pounds), one carry-on bag and personal item, free texting, free standard or forward seats (other seat selection for a fee), and 80% mileage earning when crediting to Starlux.
  • “Full” fares include two pieces of checked baggage (up to 50 pounds), one carry-on bag and personal item, free texting, free standard or forward seats (other seat selection for a fee), and 100% mileage earning when crediting to Starlux.

Baggage fees on Starlux

There are no bag fees on any economy long-haul flights: 

  • “Limited” fare: one checked bag (up to 50 pounds each)
  • Saving” fare: two checked bags (up to 50 pounds each)
  • “Basic” fare: two checked bags (up to 50 pounds each)
  • “Full” fare: two checked bags (up to 50 pounds each)

Seat selection fees on Starlux 

Long-haul economy seat selection fees depend on the fare class booked: 

  • “Limited” fare: $160 for extra legroom, $70 for forward seats, $40 for standard seats
  • “Saving” fare: $160 for extra legroom, $70 for forward seats, $40 for standard seats
  • “Basic” fare: $160 for extra legroom, free forward seats, free standard seats
  • “Full” fare: $160 for extra legroom, free forward seats, free standard seats

Fees on Starlux

  • Carryon bag: Free for all classes (one bag for “limited” fare class, two bags for all other fare classes) 
  • Checked bag: Free for all classes
  • Seat selection: Up to $160 for extra legroom, up to $70 for forward seats, up to $40 for standard seats
  • Food: Free for all classes
  • Wifi: Free texting for economy and premium economy; free full Wifi access for business and first class

What it’s like flying on Starlux 

Checking in

Starlux offers several check-in options, including online, mobile, and airport kiosks, as well as a unique in-town check-in for flights originating from Taipei. This service allows passengers to drop off their bags at Taoyuan Metro A1 Taipei Main Station and explore the city. 

Note that some airports do not provide a mobile boarding pass, so Starlux advises travelers to arrive at the airport counter at least one hour before the departure time in those instances. 

Lounge access

The airline operates a sole business lounge, the “Galactic Lounge,” at its hub in Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport (it’s on the smaller side with limited amenities). Business class passengers have access to contract lounges at other airports in Starlux’s network. At LAX, business passengers have access to the Oneworld business lounge at Tom Bradley International Terminal. At SFO, business passengers have access to the Virgin Atlantic Airways Clubhouse. 

Meanwhile, first-class passengers in Taipei can use Huan Yu VIP Terminal, a completely private facility separate from the rest of the airport. In Los Angeles, first-class guests can access PS, a high-end terminal with direct chauffeur service to the aircraft.  

Boarding

Starlux’s boarding process is similar to other full-service international carriers—the aircraft is boarded by cabin: first, business, premium economy, and economy. Carry-on size and count are monitored to ensure there’s enough room onboard the aircraft for each passenger’s carry-on allotment, but it likely won’t be as strict as other limited-service or low-cost airlines. 

Flying Starlux in economy class

starlux economyy class

As Starlux is a relatively new carrier, the cabin feels factory-fresh, and the seats are in impeccable condition. However, keep in mind that there may be a fee for advance seat selection depending on your fare type and the distance flown. For long-haul flights, expect to pay $160 for an extra legroom seat and $40 for a standard economy seat. 

Each seat has a six-way adjustable leather headrest for additional neck support, as well as 31-32″ of pitch. Long-haul economy features 4K inflight entertainment screens with Bluetooth connectivity (meaning no need to finagle with wired headsets) and power outlets. Passengers receive a pillow and blanket by default and can request additional amenities such as dental kits, eye shades, ear plugs, and slippers from the crew. 

Starlux serves high-quality meals, working with local restaurant Hutong to offer specialties like barbeque beef belly and roasted honey chicken. The airline also offers a wide drink selection, including craft cocktails. The airline is unique in that it allows economy passengers to select their meals in advance, even if they have no dietary restrictions. 

Flying Starlux in business class

starlux business class

Long-haul business class on the Airbus A350 includes 26 all-aisle access seats each with a suite door and a “halo” feature at the top of the pod for an elevated sense of seclusion. The suite, manufactured by Collins Aerospace, is new to the market. It features a larger footwell, more storage, and advanced tech (like USB-C and wireless charging) compared to its predecessor, the “Super Diamond” seat, found on airlines like British Airways and American Airlines. I found Starlux’s seat to be far more comfortable, especially for side sleepers like me. 

While Starlux touts its catering partnerships, many of the offerings—like dishes created by Michelin-starred chef Lam Ming Kin—are only available for departures from Taipei. However, expect high-quality meals for US departures with a more Western influence, like grilled Australian beef tenderloin and spiced duck breast. 

During meal service, each course is individually plated, with the crew exerting a level of precision that can only come from rigorous training. (Many of the crew were poached from world-class carriers like EVA, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, etc.) 

starlux business meal

The provided pajamas, mattress pad, and slippers are plush, and with plenty of feet and leg space under the console, it’s possible to get a restful night’s sleep.

Tips for flying Starlux

How to use a credit/voucher on Starlux

You must contact Starlux to use a credit or voucher from a previous flight. 

How to change your flight on Starlux

For tickets purchased from Starlux, you must contact the airline at least three hours before flight departure. The "Change Flight" button under your booking details may also be used to change a reservation. 

How to get a refund on Starlux? 

For totally unused tickets purchased from Starlux, visit the "Online Refund" section of "Plan a Trip" to request a refund. For partially used tickets or tickets purchased from an airport counter, visit the "Refund Application" section of the website to request a refund.

What if Starlux changes your flight day or time? 

If Starlux has a schedule change, passengers will be offered alternate flights for qualifying circumstances. If the flights have changed significantly, passengers are entitled to a refund, with any cancellation fees waived.

What if Starlux cancels your flight?

Starlux may attempt to rebook passengers on other flights, including flights on other airlines and to nearby destination cities, in the event of a canceled flight. Failing any of those options, Starlux will issue a ticket refund.

Frequently asked Frequently asked questions about flying Starlux questions

Is Starlux a good airline?
Although Starlux is relatively new, it has thus far shown to be a reliable full-service airline with amenities to suit various travel needs.
How strict is Starlux with carryon sizes?
Carry-on size and count are monitored to ensure there’s enough room onboard the aircraft for each passenger’s carryon allotment, but it likely won’t be as strict as other limited-service or low-cost airlines.
Can you change a Starlux flight for free?
Only the most expensive fare classes offer the ability to change a Starlux flight for free. For more restrictive fare classes, there will be a fee.
What's the average legroom on Starlux?
The average legroom on Starlux’s Airbus A350, the aircraft that flies between the US and Taipei, is 31-32” of seat pitch.
How can I contact Starlux?
You can contact Starlux by phone at 1-833-971-0012 from Monday to Friday, 9:00am to 5:00pm PT.

Sitehttps://www.starlux-airlines.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/starluxairlines
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlux_Airlines
Customer Service: https://www.starlux-airlines.com/en-TW/support/contact-us/contact-information
Flight Status:  https://www.starlux-airlines.com/en-TW/flight-status

More airline reviews: 

Chris Dong

Chris Dong

Freelance Writer

Chris Dong is a travel journalist and content strategist, crafting stories ranging from in-depth features and personal essays to travel news as it relates to loyalty and credit cards. His words have appeared in The Points Guy, The Washington Post, Business Insider, among other publications.

Published February 9, 2024

Last updated February 9, 2024

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