Review: Starlux A350 Premium Economy from Tokyo Narita to Taipei

Starlux is a new Taipei-based airline that operates a fleet of A330neos, A350s, and A321neos on routes around Asia. Soon, it is also expected to start using its A350 on flights from Taipei to Los Angeles.

I recently traveled on Starlux from Taipei to Tokyo and back. My flight to Tokyo was on an A330neo in economy class; I reviewed it here. On the way back to Taipei, I traveled in premium economy class on the airline’s A350. Similar to my outbound journey, the service quality was good and I remain impressed with Starlux.

Continue reading to see what the flight from Tokyo to Taipei was like and what you can expect when flying in premium economy class with Starlux.

Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy
Starlux Airlines A350-900 premium economy class.

Check-in & Boarding at Tokyo Narita Airport

Like many other airlines, Starlux uses a handling agent to manage the check-in operation at airports where it does not have a base. At Narita, Starlux employs Japan Airlines (JAL); some agents were wearing JAL uniforms, whereas others were kitted out in Starlux’s stylish uniforms.

Business class check-in was shared with special assistance passengers (mainly families with young children), and Starlux’s top tier frequent flyers (Insighter and Explorer), and, in my opinion, the queue was quite long. Two business class/special assistance desks were open initially and subsequently, another business class check-in desk had been was opened.

There was another queue for premium economy passengers and those who had completed check-in online. This queue was served by four desks. Economy class passengers seemed to have one desk available but I think were also able to use the adjacent group desk if that was not being used.

There was no first class check-in as Starlux is not currently selling its first class seats even though the A350 has four of them available. Starlux will offer first class only on long-haul flights, with the first long-haul service starting at the end of April 2023 to Los Angeles, USA.

Starlux Check-in at Narita

After check-in, we passed quickly through departures security and outbound immigration checks. Both had short queues and for departure immigration, foreigners can use facial recognition e-gates. We were through both processes within five minutes.

The gate waiting area (gate 63) was located one level down from the main concourse level and was accessible by stairs and a lift. The gate was large and had enough seats for most waiting passengers. As usual, many passengers were using seats to store their hand baggage.

Starlux Gate at Narita
Gate 63.
Starlux A350-900 at Narita
Starlux A350-900.

Boarding was organized by zones with business class passengers entering the aircraft first, followed by premium economy class passengers, and then economy which was further divided into zones according to seat numbers.

The flight departure time was scheduled for 1:55PM. Boarding commenced at 1.30PM. The boarding process was well-organized and efficient.

Boarding Starlux Flight at Narita

Starlux A350-900 Premium Economy Class Cabin and Seat

The Starlux A350 was equipped with a total of 306 seats in four classes.

At the very front of the aircraft was the first and business class cabin. There were 4 first class and 26 business class lie-flat bed seats, both in a 1-2-1 layout. Interestingly, there is no separate first class cabin. Instead, the first class seats occupying row 1 are distinguishable from the business class seats with their higher partitions giving more privacy.

There were 36 premium economy seats with a 40” pitch, in a 2-4-2 arrangement. The recline was 6” and the width was 19”.

Lastly, there were 240 economy class seats with 31-32” pitch in a 3-3-3 arrangement. The recline was 5” and the width was 18”.

The premium economy class cabin had an attractive and coordinated color scheme using the ‘champagne’ and silver/grey Starlux corporate colors.

Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy Seats

My seat, 20H was a front-row aisle seat in a pair next to a window and with a bulkhead in front – the legroom was more than enough for me even though I’m quite tall at 1.82m high. There was an adjustable leather headrest and an adjustable footrest to help you sleep.

The meal tray was housed in the armrest separating the two seats (H and K). The tray could be used full-size or folded in half.

Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy Legroom
Bulkhead legroom.
Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy Tray Table
Tray table.

My seat was equipped with a decently sized crystal clear, high-resolution in-flight entertainment screen mounted on the bulkhead that could be controlled by a wired device (similar to an Apple TV remote control) housed in the armrest.

Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy IFE Controller
IFE controller.

Each seat was equipped with its own USB-A and USB-C charging ports as well as a universal power outlet. All of these were located in the lower part of the seat divider between the two footrests.

The bulkhead in front of me had a document storage compartment with a safety card, an in-flight magazine (Kiânn), and an inflight shopping catalog. A pillow was provided on the seat and blankets were available on request. Amenity kits are also available on request for premium economy class passengers.

With everyone quickly and efficiently on board and seated, the pushback was a little late at 2:07PM, and with an 18-minute tug decoupling and taxi time, we took off at 2:25PM.

Before take-off, Starlux’s unique “Star Wonderers” safety video featuring a futuristic space travel theme was played.

Starlux Safety Video
Safety video.

Starlux Short-Haul Premium Economy Class Lunch

We experienced some turbulence shortly after take-off and so the meal service was delayed until 3:25PM (more than 1 hour after take-off).

There was a choice of two meals. I chose the chicken masala dish that came with a smoked duck starter, some cut fruit, a bread roll with butter, and a small cake. Metal cutlery was provided. There was a wide choice of drinks, including soft drinks, water, beer, and red or white wine to accompany the meal.

The meal tray looked exactly like the meal tray that was served to me on the outbound economy class flight I took with the same layout and the same number of items, so I believe that economy and premium economy passengers are served the same meal on Starlux flights. 

Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy Lunch

After lunch, tea and coffee were available. On this flight, unlike the outbound flight in economy class, I decided not to partake in the Starlux cocktail that is available to all passengers when traveling on Starlux’s larger aircraft (A350 and A330).

Starlux A350-900 In-Flight Entertainment System

The in-flight entertainment system was essentially the same as the one on the A330neo. Starlux’s in-flight entertainment system may not be as extensive as that of some other airlines such as Emirates, but there were still more than enough options for this relatively short flight. 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.

Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy IFE

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 A350-900 In-Flight Wi-Fi

The Starlux A350 was equipped with onboard wi-fi. The packages offered were the same as those on the A330neo. The network name was the same as well – staying true to the airline’s overall theme, it was “Galactic_WiFi.”

As for the packages, 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.

Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy Wi-Fi
Onboard wi-fi.

Cruising Onboard a Starlux A350-900

As this was a relatively short flight (around 3 hours) I was content to just listen to some music. Like its A330neo, Starlux’s A350 offered the option of a Bluetooth connection between its IFE and your own earbuds/headphones.

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.

The Starlux A350 windows did not have conventional shades. Instead, you could dim the windows automatically using an easy-to-operate touch slider control situated below the window.

Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy Dimmable Windows
Dimmable window.

I visited the lavatory, and this time the high-quality toiletries were by the Swedish company IDUN. During the outbound flight on the A330neo, the toilets had Thann toiletries.

Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy Lavatory Amenities
IDUN amenities.

There was also one very special feature of the toilets. They were equipped with Starlux’s own toilet paper with its Star Wonderers design.

Starlux Airlines A350-900 Premium Economy Toilet Paper
Starlux toilet paper.

Arrival at Taipei Taoyuan Airport

The cabin was prepared for landing and we touched down at 4:46PM local time at Taoyuan International Airport, around 20 minutes late, and we were parked on our terminal 1 stand around 5 minutes later.

After disembarking we made our way to the immigration control via a very busy tax-free shop. There were no major queues for the manned immigration desks for visitors and soon we were in the baggage reclaim hall collecting our baggage.

Starlux A350-900 Premium Economy Class Summary

Overall, Starlux’s premium 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 with Starlux a very pleasant and comfortable experience.

I could imagine resting well on a longer flight in the premium economy seat with its 6” recline and footrest. Some of the extras such as high-quality bathroom amenities and travel kits I would only normally expect when traveling business class.

Starlux is clearly striving for quality and is likely to increasingly compete with Eva Air and China Airlines as it continues to grow its network across Asia and beyond.

1 thought on “Review: Starlux A350 Premium Economy from Tokyo Narita to Taipei”

  1. Thanks for the post. I’ve heard everything about this airline except a review. Looks like an elegant cabin with a calming atmosphere. I have found them a little pricey so I have been reluctant to book a trip. I look forward to flying with them in the future.

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