New Airline Starlux Wants to Fly You to Taiwan in Affordable Luxury

Taiwan-based Starlux Airlines just unveiled its first intercontinental route between Los Angeles and Taipei, on planes that feature BMW-designed interiors, elevated Taiwanese cuisine, and smooth jazz.

A blue, gold, and white Starlux plane in flight

Starlux’s next North America destination is slated to be San Francisco.

Courtesy of Starlux

Travelers keen on traveling to Taiwan from the United States now have a new—and pretty fancy—option, complete with first- and business-class seats with built-in massagers, in-flight menus curated by celebrated chefs, and satellite Wi-Fi. Taiwanese airline Starlux last week unveiled new long-haul flights between Taipei and Los Angeles, marking the carrier’s first route outside of Asia since its launch in 2020.

Starlux is “a luxury carrier expanding in a world of no-frills airlines,” Simon Liu, Starlux chief strategy officer, told AFAR. “Our philosophy is that luxury isn’t just for the elite.”

Liu explained that many small touches throughout the planes are meant to elevate the experience. For instance, the airline partnered with P.Seven, a Taiwanese perfume company, for a custom fragrance called “Home in the Air” for the cabins, and there’s even airline branded toilet paper in the lavatories. Starlux also collaborated with smooth jazz guitarist Peter White to create a soundtrack for a serene in-cabin ambience.

What are Starlux planes like?

All of Starlux’s flights use Airbus aircraft (the company currently has a fleet of 20 planes). The transpacific route operates on Airbus A350-900s with a layout that includes four classes of service. Here’s the breakdown:

First class

The front of the plane features four private first-class suites with seats that have an in-chair massager, a “Zero-G” position (which helps passengers take on a neutral body posture, a system initially developed by NASA), and the ability to fully recline. There are also USB-C charging capabilities, a wireless charging pad, and a private mini-bar.

Business class

The business section consists of 26 lie-flat seats, also featuring in-chair massagers and the “Zero-G” positioning. USB-C charging and a wireless charging pad are also available. The seats are arranged in a reverse herringbone style, so each has direct access to the aisle.

Premium economy class

There are 36 reclining premium economy seats with a leg rest and footrest bar.

Economy class

The remaining 240 seats make up the economy section. Seats come with USB ports and a universal power outlet.

The aircraft interiors, which are full of earth tones and matte golds, were designed by BMW. All seats have a six-way adjustable leather headrest and personal entertainment screens with Bluetooth connectivity, so passengers can connect their own wireless headphones to watch movies and shows. There’s also Inmarsat GX Aviation-powered satellite Wi-Fi, free for first- and business-class travelers and available for purchase for economy and premium economy passengers. The in-flight menu, curated by chefs from Michelin-rated restaurants, includes Taiwanese dishes for all classes—the airline’s signature dish is yakiniku donburi, a barbecue-style beef bowl.

How much does it cost to fly Starlux?

The Starlux website for one-way airfares in June definitely indicates more accessible pricing than its in-flight perks might suggest. Fares from L.A. to Taipei start at just under $900 in economy, from $1,212 in premium economy, from $2,900 in business, and from $9,641 in first class. Those rates more or less track with what EVA Air, another Taiwan-based airline with direct flights from Los Angeles to Taipei, is offering for economy, premium economy, and business (EVA doesn’t have a first class).

Starlux partners with Alaska Airlines

In conjunction with the inaugural transpacific flight, Starlux also announced a new loyalty partnership with Alaska Airlines to ease connections to cities the two airlines serve. Alaska Airlines operates roughly 1,200 flights each day, connecting more than 115 destinations in the United States, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, and Belize. Starlux isn’t currently a member of a major airline alliance and doesn’t partner with any other domestic airline beyond Alaska Airlines.

With the announcement of the partnership, Alaska shared the one-way redemption rates, which will go into effect at some point this summer. For a limited time, travelers will be able to redeem 20,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for economy flights on Starlux, 40,000 miles for premium economy, and 60,000 miles for business class.

Where does Starlux fly?

Starlux currently flies to destinations throughout Southeast Asia, including:

  • Macau
  • Thailand’s Bangkok
  • Malaysia’s Penang and Kuala Lumpur
  • Singapore
  • Vietnam’s Danang, Hanoi, and Ho Chi Minh City
  • Philippines’s Cebu and Manila
  • Japan’s Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Okinawa

From now through the end of May, Starlux will offer round-trip flights between Los Angeles and Taipei five days a week (on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays). Starting in June, it will fly daily between the two cities. The airline plans to expand to San Francisco in December 2023.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at AFAR. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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