Starlux operated its first flight in January 2020 and since then has been growing its fleet of Airbus aircraft and its network. Starlux currently serves various destinations in Asia, including Japan, Malaysia, Macau, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. From April 2023, Starlux will also operate its first long-haul route, to Los Angeles, USA, using its Airbus A350s.
Earlier this year, I had a chance to fly on the airline’s Airbus A330neo from Taipei to Tokyo. This was my first flight with this airline, and I have to say I was impressed. Continue reading to see what the flight was like and what you can expect when flying in economy class with Starlux.
Check-in & Boarding at Taipei Taoyuan Airport
Starlux operates from Terminal 1 at Taoyuan International Airport. On the day I flew, Starlux was using separate check-in desks for economy, premium economy/self-check-in, and business class, at Zones 2 and 3. Queueing was well organized and queue lengths were reasonable.
Check-in and baggage services, including manual transfer of checked bags from the desk to the baggage conveyor, were performed by Starlux staff in their smart and eye-catching uniforms.
After check-in, passengers ascend to the next level of the terminal for security and immigration checks. I experienced very short queues and was in the airside departure hall within minutes.
Taoyuan International Airport currently has two terminals (1 and 2) with four concourses (A, B, C, and D). You can walk airside to any gate regardless of which terminal you use to check in, but the aircraft are usually parked at gates in concourses A and B for Terminal 1 airlines and concourses C and D for Terminal 2 airlines.
As Starlux is based in Terminal 1, my departure gate was in Concourse A (Gate A5). The gate waiting area was located one level down from the main concourse level and was accessible by stairs and an elevator. The gate was large and had enough seats for all waiting passengers.
Boarding was organized by class with business class passengers entering the aircraft first, followed by economy class which was divided into zones according to seat numbers.
The flight departure time was scheduled for 11:00AM with boarding at 10:30AM. However, there was a delay with boarding starting at 10:50AM. The boarding process was well-organized and passengers mostly complied with the zone boarding arrangements.
Starlux A330neo Economy Class Cabin and Seat
The Starlux A330-900neo was equipped with a total of 297 seats in just two classes.
At the very front of the aircraft was the business class cabin with 28 lie-flat bed seats in a 1-2-1 layout. Behind that were 269 economy class seats with 31-32” pitch in a 2-4-2 layout (2-3-2 towards the rear of the aircraft).
The economy class cabin had an attractive and coordinated color scheme using ‘champagne’ and silver/grey Starlux corporate colors. My seat, 43D was a middle-section aisle seat – the legroom was fine for me even though I’m quite tall at 1.82m high. There was an adjustable leather headrest to help you sleep.
The seat was equipped with a large crystal clear, high-resolution in-flight entertainment screen. The edge of the screen was equipped with a USB charging port and directly under the screen there was a narrow, drop-down tray with a cup holder and space to store/stand your mobile phone. Each seat also has a fold-out tray table for the meal service.
The back of the seat in front of me had a document storage compartment with a safety card, an in-flight magazine (Kiânn), and an inflight shopping catalog.
In addition to the personal USB port, there were a universal power outlet and a USB-C charging port available for each pair of economy class seats. These were positioned at the back of the armrest of the seats in front.
Blankets and pillows were not provided but were available on request. Amenity kits were also available on request for economy class passengers.
With everyone quickly and efficiently on board and seated, pushback was at 11.09AM and with a 15-minute tug decoupling and taxi time we took off at 11:24AM.
Starlux Safety Demonstration Video
Like a number of airlines these days, Starlux is making a statement with its safety demonstration video.
Starlux’s video is called ‘Star Wonderers’ and the theme is futuristic space travel. The video is very much in the style of Pixar with wacky cartoon-like alien characters and humans that seem to have mutated and have only one large eye.
The video was amusing and was available to watch again via the inflight entertainment system.
Starlux Short-Haul Economy Class Lunch
The seatbelt signs were switched off less than half an hour after take-off. Shortly after that, the meal service started.
There was a choice of two meals – typically for Asian airlines there was one ‘western’ style dish (Mexican chicken and bean stew) and one ‘Asian’ style dish (Hutong Taiwanese salted spring onion pork shoulder donburi). The meal came with a small side salad, some cut fruit, a bread roll with butter, and a small cake.
Economy class passengers had the luxury of eating with metal cutlery!
There was a wide choice of drinks, including soft drinks, water, beer, and red or white wine. I opted for ice green tea but that was not available on the drinks trolley and I had to wait some time for a cabin crew member to go back to the galley and fetch that for me.
After lunch, tea and coffee were available, or if you wanted to push the boat out, Starlux offers one of its signature cocktails to all passengers. I tried the ‘Sci-fi Cosmos 2.0’; a mix of gin, blue Curacao, and tonic water; quite delicious!
These cocktails are available for economy passengers only when traveling on Starlux’s larger aircraft (A350 and A330).
Starlux A330neo In-Flight Entertainment System
Starlux’s in-flight entertainment system may not be as extensive as some other airlines like Emirates, but there were still more than enough options for this relatively short flight. As mentioned earlier, I was particularly impressed with the resolution quality of the seat-back personal TV screen.
Passengers could choose from a variety of movies (including some recent Oscar winners), TV series, games, and music.
In addition to the entertainment itself, there was also an in-flight map that allowed me to follow the progress of the flight. There were plenty of different map views to choose from.
Starlux A330neo In-Flight Wi-Fi
The Starlux A330neo was equipped with onboard wi-fi. A variety of packages was available for passengers.
There was a free service that allowed for messaging services such as Whatsapp, Line, Messenger, or WeChat to be used. For those that wanted to surf the internet or use social media, there were paid packages:
- 30MB: 5 USD
- 100MB: 10 USD
While on the surface, the prices were pretty reasonable compared to some other airlines, they came with significant data caps.
On a separate note, staying true to the airline’s overall theme, the onboard wi-fi network was named “Galactic_WiFi.”
Cruising Onboard a Starlux A330neo
As this was a relatively short flight (around 3 hours) I was content to just listen to some music.
While Starlux offered the option of a Bluetooth connection between its IFE and one’s own earbuds/headphones, I couldn’t get that to work – maybe that was just me not being particularly technical. Anyway, it was of no consequence; I listened to my own music from my iPhone.
During the flight, the cabin crew offered more drinks and went around the cabin asking if any passengers wanted to buy from the tax-free catalog.
I visited the lavatory and was pleasantly surprised to see the kind of amenities normally reserved for business class toilets. They were made by Thann in Thailand and very nice they were too!
There was also one very special feature in the lavatories – Starlux’s own toilet paper featuring a Star Wonderers design.
Arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport
The cabin was prepared for landing and we touched down at 3:12PM local time in Narita; we were parked on the stand around 10 minutes later at terminal 2’s gate 65.
After disembarking we made our way to the immigration control. It was quite chaotic with every passenger having to show a QR code to staff stationed in the corridor before immigration control. At immigration control, there was a very long snake queue for visitors which took 45 minutes to get through. That was not a great welcome to Japan.
Once through we collected our baggage and caught the Kesei Skyliner to Ueno to enjoy the delights of downtown Tokyo!
Starlux A330neo Economy Class Summary
Overall, Starlux’s economy class product was very good – the cabin was stylish, the cabin crew was helpful and friendly, and there were lots of little extra touches that made flying economy class with Starlux a pleasant experience. Some of these extras such as high-quality bathroom amenities and travel kits I would only normally expect when traveling business class.
I think Starlux has made a fantastic start and is definitely a great choice if you are flying to or from Taiwan. I will be very interested to watch Starlux grow its network, particularly its long-haul network which will herald the start of Starlux’s first class product.
Before you go, you might also want to check out my Starlux A321neo economy class review.