Starlux reveals new A350 first, business class

The chic Taiwanese challenger pulls back the curtains on the new shape of premium travel on its first Airbus A350.

By David Flynn, November 4 2022
Starlux reveals new A350 first, business class

Starlux Airlines looks to be making good on its promise to bring a new style of premium travel to Asia and beyond, with the reveal of its all-new Airbus A350 first class and business class suites.

The advanced twin-jet will spearhead the Taiwanese start-up’s entry into the US market from early 2023 and help Starlux level up against local rivals China Airlines and EVA Air – as could Starlux’s possible entry in to the Oneworld alliance.

Starlux A350 first class.
Starlux A350 first class.

A startup led by longterm Taiwanese aviation executive and former EVA Air chairman Chang Kuo-wei, scion of one of the island-nation’s richest families with an estimated net worth exceeding US$1 billion, Starlux has been touted by Chang as becoming the “Emirates of Taiwan.”.

This is based in part on Taipei’s geographical location: “you can reach major Asian cities within five hours,” Chang has observed.

“Located in a central position connecting North America, North Asia, and Southeast Asia, Taiwan has the best foundation to develop as an aviation hub.”

Chang cited the A350 as a perfect complement to the carrier’s existing A321neo and A330neo jets, saying “ the Starlux fleet fleet now can cover short, mid, and long range flights, providing service to passengers outside Asia.”

Starlux A350 first class

Starlux’s decision to include first class on its A350s is intended to give it a premium travel advantage over local rivals China Airlines and Eva Air, both of which phased out first class in recent years.

Starlux A350 first class.
Starlux A350 first class.

Indeed, it will be one of the few airlines with first class on an A350-900, alongside Lufthansa and Malaysia Airlines.

Starlux A350 first class.
Starlux A350 first class.

There’s a single row of four high-walled suites “built with a 60-inch door wall, allowing the passengers to have a personal suite on the aircraft.”

Starlux A350 first class.
Starlux A350 first class.

Each suite includes a 32" HD video screen and personal mini-bar, while “a personal wardrobe is provided to store luggage.”

Starlux A350 first class.
Starlux A350 first class.

The seat can of course convert into a lie-flat bed but also “comes with a zero-gravity feature to offer extra comfort and relaxation.”

Starlux A350 business class

Starlux is also aiming to elevate its A350 business class above that of China Airlines and Eva Air.

Starlux A350 business class.
Starlux A350 business class.

All 26 business class suites are framed by “a 48-inch door and a cozy lamp to provide warmth,” the airline says; and like first class, there are both lie-flat bed and zero-gravity modes.

Starlux A350 business class.
Starlux A350 business class.

The 24" HD screen features Bluetooth audio streaming to the passenger’s own headphones or earbuds – this high-tech trait also appears in first class, premium economy and economy – while the materials and trim of the business suites shows fine attention to detail.

Starlux A350 business class.
Starlux A350 business class.

Starlux A350 seat map

Although we haven’t yet seen the official Starlux A350 seating chart, the jet is known to have four travel classes:

  • four first class suites
  • 26 business class seats
  • 36 premium economy seats
  • 240 economy seats
Starlux's A350 premium economy seats.
Starlux's A350 premium economy seats.

As expected, the Starlux A350 cabin offers a refined, warm and calming design embracing a palette of natural colours, similar to that of the Starlux A330neo and in keeping with Starlux’s positioning as a self-declared “detail-oriented luxury airline”, especially in the premium cabins.

Starlux believe this approach is paramount to unlocking the duopoly of China Airlines and EVA Air in the highly competitive Asian market.

Starlux A350 delivery

The first Starlux A350 delivery has already joined its A321neo and A330neo siblings in the airline’s hangars, with a second A350 to follow by year’s end, two more in 2023 and another four in 2024 – then come the final 10 deliveries streaming through to the end of 2027.

Starlux will take delivery of its first two Airbus A350s this year.
Starlux will take delivery of its first two Airbus A350s this year.

All 18 will be the popular A350-900 model, with Starlux having cancelled its original plans for a mix of the versatile A350-900 variant and the longer-range A350-1000.

Starlux A350 routes

As is commonplace once airlines add a new type of aircraft to their fleet, Starlux will begin short-range A350 flights for the purpose of crew familiarisation and to fine-tune procedures other operational procedures at Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport – as well as publicising its shiny new jet, of course.

But where Starlux will first fly the A350 remains to be seen. A spokesperson for the airline tells Executive Traveller “it will be South East Asian destinations, however, the exact routes are still under planning.”

Singapore is likely to be on that shortlist, along with Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and perhaps a destination in Japan (Starlux currently flies to Tokyo, Sapporo, Osaka, Fukuoka and Okinawa).

The Starlux A350 will first be seen on regional routes around Asia from early 2023.
The Starlux A350 will first be seen on regional routes around Asia from early 2023.

But those regional hops may not take off until early 2023, due to the need to have the A350 certified by Taiwanese authorities – a procedure which could take until early next year, the airline says.

From April 2023 Starlux will swing the A350 onto its first US routes, between Taipei and Los Angeles, the spokesperson confirmed.

Other North American cities will follow, and Starlux isn’t stopping there, with plans to extend its A350 network into Europe.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

01 Oct 2021

Total posts 10

Calling yourself the Emirates of Taiwan is not my idea of something good. People have a false impression of Emirates. They only see pictures of Emorates first class or A380 business class. The bulk of Emirates fleet is 777 with the most awful out of date 2 x 2 x 2 open seat business class with lousy food and hit and miss service from crew who think they are doing you a favour.

bsb
bsb

21 Jul 2011

Total posts 92

Totally agree. Just flew EK F or Europe. I prefer QR J. The ‘cabin’ isn’t that flexible and one can only handle the bling for so long. The menu was very underwhelming. All show and no substance. And as for their Flounges… I really like the look of what Starlux is doing, hope they join OW. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2015

Total posts 121

First is a little underwhelming 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 221

Taiwanese citizens must be spoilt for choice now with their main airlines now having some of the best seating arrangements worldwide. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 310

Look forward to seeing this when it actually rolls out!  Hopefully it lives up to it's hype, and not just a "Business Plus" model maskerading as First.  The seat itself doesn't look like there is a lot of room beside it, especially to stand up without having to stand in the asile... am i the only one that enjoys an open roomier seat, rather than being "boxed" in by high walls?  maybe it is the angle of the promotional pics.  Crew service can only go so far, so will be interesting to see how they differentiate First and Business class service.

Also wondering what other items they may provide for "First" Class? ie, First Class lounge access/service, VIP services, Chauffeur drive to/from airport, other items that may add value to the Price tag that they expect ? 

They still have a long road ahead, but when competition have been shedding fat over the years, at least they are heading in the right direction and trying to bring back luxury and competition to flying.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 310

Look forward to experiencing this once it launches!  Hopefully it is not just a "Business Plus" model, rather a full First class experience.  The cabin from the promotional pics looks a bit small, not a lot of room to stand next to the seat without impending into the asile... hopefully it's just the angle of the pics and the seat offers more room! (Am I also the only one that is also not phased by the high walls? I quite enjoy having a "roomier" feel, than being boxed in by high walls. )

Will also be interesting to see how else they will differentiate between their Business and First class service. Crew can only do so much, and catering can only go so far...  will be interesting to see how else they will differentiate in the offerings in the air and on the ground, ie  Lounge / VIP- Butler services? / Chauffeur pickup? etc...

When many airlines have been cutting back in recent years, this seems to be heading in the good direction. However, they still have a long journey ahead to compete with the big two airlines in Taiwan.


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