A review of Starlux business class on the Airbus A350-900 from Los Angeles to Taipei: Out of this world

Quick take: While award availability can be hard to come by, Starlux’s exciting new business-class suite makes for a thrilling journey.

ProsBookable with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan milesFabulous new planes with luxurious interiors and comfy seatsIncredible service from boarding to deplaningConsExpensive cash and mileage redemption pricesThe inflight entertainment system could have more optionsDimmable windows were locked or unresponsive

Once in a blue moon in the points and miles space, you strike redemption gold. I was recently the beneficiary of such a stroke of luck when the new Taiwanese airline Starlux Airlines started teaming up with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan. For just a few hours in July of last year, Alaska members were able to book awards in business class on nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Taipei, Taiwan, for just 60,000 Mileage Plan miles each way. Prices increased quickly and never came back down.

I lept at the opportunity to visit Taipei, which had been on my bucket list. To do it on a brand-new airline I’d never flown made the prospect even better. I’d been excited to fly Starlux after reading my colleague Zach Griff’s coverage of the airline’s inaugural U.S. flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE).

Starlux has some competition on the route with flights to Taipei offered by EVA Airways and China Airlines, so how did it stack up? Here’s what the experience was like.

How much does business class cost to book on Starlux?

Starlux A350 at boarding gate. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Starlux business class (and economy, for that matter) doesn’t come cheap. The lowest fare I could find in business class for a round-trip ticket between LAX and TPE was just over $5,500.

Here is the range of cash and award rates for round-trip travel on this route over the next 12 months:

ClassEconomyPremium economy Business classAirfare (round-trip)$918 to $1,596$1,975 to $3,123$5,514 to $8,806Miles (Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan )60,000 to 124,500 plus $38 to $48100,000 to 195,500 plus $19 to $70330,000 plus $48 to $104

I’d been looking for a chance to spend a hoard of Alaska miles I’d been sitting on, and with this booking, I was able to snag a round-trip ticket in business class for just 120,000 Alaska miles. Those miles are worth $1,080, according to TPG’s valuations. That was an extremely good deal considering cash prices start at more than $5,500 round-trip.

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Unfortunately, those discounted mileage redemption prices are long gone. I couldn’t find business-class tickets for less than 165,000 Alaska miles each way for my flights.

The one sweet spot I did find was premium economy seats for 50,000 Alaska miles each way. The premium economy cabin on Starlux looks pretty nice.

The premium economy cabin on Starlux. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

If you are looking for an easy way to earn Mileage Plan miles, I’ve opened both of the Alaska Airlines credit cards issued by Bank of America.

The Alaska Airlines Visa® credit card has a $95 annual fee but currently offers a limited-time sign-up bonus of 70,000 bonus miles plus Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare™ ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) with this offer. To qualify, spend $3,000 or more on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

If you have a small business, you might prefer the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business card. This card has a $70 annual fee for the company and $25 per card. It offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus miles and Alaska’s Famous Companion Fare ($99 fare plus taxes and fees from $23) after you spend $3,000 or more on purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account.

Finally, Bilt Rewards just launched a strategic partnership with Alaska Airlines. You can now transfer Bilt points to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan directly at a 1:1 ratio. That makes opening a Bilt card an even better idea. I have loved using my Bilt card to pay rent and have taken advantage of several transfer bonuses in the past year.

Related: 6 reasons I love my Bilt Mastercard as a renter in the most expensive city in the US

Generally, you can check a bag and have carry-on bags without baggage fees on Starlux.

Both cash fares and mileage redemptions in business class include free seat selection, two complimentary checked bags weighing up to 50 pounds each, one full-size carry-on bag and one personal item (like a handbag or laptop bag).

AllowancesSeat selection (cost)Cabin baggage allowanceChecked baggage allowanceCash faresDepends on the type of fare class, usually complimentaryOne full-size cabin bag, plus one personal itemOne to two 50-pound bag(s) included depending on fare classRedemptions Complimentary One full-size cabin bag, plus one complimentary personal item One to two 50-pound bag(s) included depending on ticket class

Starlux started service in 2020, but the airline is dreaming big. It’s already serving 23 destinations, mostly in Asia, but just expanded service to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The airline also will launch service to Seattle in August.

Checking into and boarding business class on Starlux


Starlux uses row B in Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.


There was no line when I arrived at 6:50 p.m., but there were also very few workers. Starlux check-in desks don’t officially open until 7:30 p.m., about three and a half hours before the flight. Those counters were B47 through B54.

When I approached a man working behind the counter where Starlux would be operating, he told me I could use counters across the way at B20, B21 and B22; these were set up to take passengers who arrived as early as 6:30 p.m.

Check-in gates at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

I jumped on the opportunity to get checked in a little earlier and only waited about 10 minutes before a friendly agent checked me in and printed my boarding pass. Three agents were at those counters for special accommodations — mostly people checking in large luggage.


I had a boarding pass within five minutes and spent the next half hour taking photos and walking around the B check-in counters.

There were four counters for economy passengers: one for premium economy passengers, two for business-class passengers and one for first-class passengers. Once the main counters opened around 7:30 p.m., I counted no fewer than nine agents.

There were also 24 kiosks, though a few weren’t working, and I couldn’t use them to check in anyway. Like with the app, passengers on flights booked through Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan must check in with an agent even if they have the Starlux record locater.

Starlux recently started employing TSA PreCheck, which cuts a lot of time since many transpacific flights leave Southern California and head to Asia in the evenings. The agent told me they had just joined TSA PreCheck in December.

In addition to participation in the TSA PreCheck program, here’s what you can expect for inclusions when flying with Starlux.

Priority boardingYesLounge availableStarlux guests can use the Oneworld business-class lounge in the main departure hallDoes the airline participate in TSA PreCheck?YesBoarding groupBoarding Group 1 of 6

From the main departure hall airside in LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal, I took an elevator up a floor and walked down a long hallway to the gorgeous Oneworld business-class lounge.

Oneworld Lounge at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

While this is branded as a Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Oneworld lounge, Starlux business-class passengers can use it as well.

This massive lounge is beautiful, with a plethora of seating areas. Showers and lots of complimentary high-end booze are also available. In fact, there was a large bar to the right as I walked in, where bartenders were ready to make mixed drinks. There were also self-pour wine stations and even a selection of candies.

There was no line, and it was calm and relaxing inside. This was a huge space with several separate seating areas and workstations.

I enjoyed browsing and grazing from the massive hot and cold food bar with what seemed like a never-ending supply of interesting food options. Among the choices were roasted pumpkin and carrot soup, red wine-braised chicken and mushrooms, jasmine rice, rigatoni pasta, steamed broccoli, several salad options and a ramen self-serve station. There was even a pancake machine.

I could have spent hours at the lounge, but I wanted to check out the gate area for my Starlux flight. It’s a good thing I left a little early, as it’s a bit of a trek. You should give yourself at least 15 minutes to get over to the remote gates numbered from 201 to 225.

Signage for gates 201 to 225 at LAX. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The boarding area was large and modern. We were leaving from Gate 221. The giant seating area served Gate 221 and another gate next door (Gate 225).

There were hundreds of seats, dozens of which were empty, so it never felt cramped. Two large tables, each with seating for eight, had plenty of outlets, and there were free charging plugs at most of the seats in the boarding area.

The only negative about the gate was that it was hard to see the plane from it.

There are technically eight boarding groups for Starlux, though they only have six numbered spots. Starlux agents put out cardboard signs in the boarding area for each group. I’d never seen that system before, but it seemed to work well. You’ll only be able to do this with large boarding gates like those in this terminal.

Agents brought passengers with wheelchairs to a reserved area first, along with two first-class passengers. Boarding began promptly around 10:20 p.m. as those in wheelchairs were escorted through the boarding gates.

Preboarding holding area at Gate 221. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

First-class passengers got escorted preboarding at 10:35 p.m. as people in wheelchairs were also helped on board. Group 1 was next for business-class passengers, followed by Group 2 for premium economy and groups 3, 4 and 5 for the economy cabin. Boarding was efficient, and the cabin was secured by 11 p.m.

Boarding a Starlux A350 in Los Angeles. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

There was plenty of time left before our departure at 11:10 p.m.

How comfortable was business class on Starlux?

Business-class seat on Starlux. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

I found the Starlux business-class cabin to be visually stunning, with a modern and stylish cabin outfitted with subtle branding touches like stars and hints of metallic gold. The beautiful mural of flowers and vases on the galley wall was an especially nice touch. When the cabin was dim, subtle lights sparkled in the mural.

In a press release describing the “Enchanting Sophistication” cabin interior, Starlux said the design suggests “sitting on a throne in a magnificent palace, with warm woven fabrics and luxurious textures, embellished with a royal rose golden color.”

I’m not sure it felt like a throne, but the seat was certainly comfortable. I chose seat 6K on the aisle, which had a single window. No one was sitting across the aisle from me in the center seat.

One thing to be aware of is that many of the seats’ windows have partially obstructed views. Only seats 5K and 5A had a full unobstructed window. The cabin also had electronically dimmable windows. However, I found the sliding controllers were locked for most of the flight, and they were unresponsive when I did have some control over them.

Starlux is the first airline to install Collins Aerospace’s new Elements suite, which is well designed and made for a comfortable flight.

Starlux A350 business class suite. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Starlux’s Airbus A350 has seven rows of business class in the front of the plane, consisting of 26 seats arranged in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration. Every seat has direct aisle access and privacy sliding doors.

A row of four first-class seats takes up the very front of the cabin, with high walls giving it some separation from the rest of the cabin.

This Airbus A350-900 had the following layout and seat dimensions in business class.

Number of seats26Cabin layout1-2-1Seat reclineFully flat, 77 inchesSeat width21 inchesScreen size24 inches

I loved seat 6K. It was well padded and wide enough that I never felt cramped. The footwell narrowed at the feet, but unlike some business-class seats I’ve been in, it didn’t feel too tight while I slept. I measured it at 14 inches at its narrowest.

The armrest goes up and down but also slides forward to make the seat even larger when fully flat.

When I was ready to sleep, a flight attendant quickly converted the seat into a 77-inch-long bed replete with a mattress pad for extra padding.

The seat also went into what Starlux calls “Zero-G” mode based on what the airline says is “NASA’s neutral body posture specifications.” It’s sort of a lounging position that Starlux sells as helping reduce pressure on joints and ease fatigue.

The bi-fold tray table was pulled out from under the inflight entertainment system and could be extended or partially retracted. At 16 inches wide and 18.5 inches long at its largest, it felt like the perfect size for meal service and for my 15-inch MacBook Pro when I needed to work.

Fully extended tray table in Starlux business class. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The dimmable side lamps at every seat were a classy touch. They were controlled by a 4.7-inch touchscreen panel on the armrest that also allowed for changing the seat position.

Dimmable lamp at a Starlux business-class seat. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

There was also a shallow storage compartment that I could open. It was a good spot for me to store my passport, but it wasn’t deep enough to store much else.

Storage compartment on Starlux A350 business-class seat. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

A great storage closet at my seat held quite a lot during the flight. It even had a charging pad, though I couldn’t get my cellphone to charge.

Inside, there was a headphone hook, a retractable trackpad remote, a USB port and a 220-volt plug. The cubby lit up when opened and even had a large mirror.

A small open cubby provided more storage along the side of the seat not far from the footwell; there was also a small pocket for the inflight duty-free magazine and aircraft description.

The Starlux seat also had a sliding door for added privacy. I needed a flight attendant to show me how to open and close it since it had a somewhat hidden button that you needed to unlatch to open the door.

Starlux calls it a 48.5-inch partition. Personally, I find the sliding door trend to be silly. Unless you are in a first-class suite with very, very tall doors, the privacy advantage seems overblown.

Most of the seats were good, but you’ll want to take a window seat in rows A or K if you are a solo traveler.

Best seats for solo travelersAny A or K seatBest seats for couplesD and G pairs (except row 8)Seats to avoidRow 8 seats 8D and 8G 

There are no individual air nozzles on Starlux A350s, so the cabin can get warm.

No individual air nozzles on Starlux A350s. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

There were two business-class restrooms, one on each side of the business-class cabin near the galley at the back. There was another bathroom near the cockpit that was mostly off-limits for business-class passengers.


Both lavatories were always kept clean throughout the flight.

Bathroom door on a Starlux A350. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Inside the bathroom, I found dental floss, mouthwash and towelettes for customers to use, but there was also face mist and lotion by the French skincare brand Huygens.

One of the most interesting things about the bathrooms was the Starlux-branded toilet paper with the phrase “star wonderers” imprinted on the tissue along with a space character. It was quirky but cute.

There were several other nice touches, like displays of artificial flowers and a room deodorizer.


My favorite part of using the facilities was that gentle, soothing music began to play when the bathroom door closed.


The other restroom is in the forward galley, and it’s larger than the two in business class, though I definitely got the sense that the crew only wanted that used by first-class passengers.

Related: Flying Starlux’s impressive new business class on the inaugural to Taipei

Amenities in Starlux business class

Business class on a Starlux A350. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Starlux business class was chock-full of up-to-date amenities.

Each seat had a thick gold pillow and a duvet blanket waiting on the seat, as well as slippers in their own sealed bag. Mattress pads were stored in the overhead bins but were made available to passengers when it was time to sleep.

Pajamas were also provided for this overnight flight. Starlux is one of the few airlines still handing out pajamas to their business-class passengers. They were cute, camel colored and provided a nice option for sleepwear, though they barely fit. Despite being a little tight for me — the largest size available was a large — I wore them anyway. They were handed out along with a moisturizing mask.

All business-class passengers were provided with noise-canceling headphones branded as Starlux. I found them comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time, and they did a decent job of blocking out noise in the cabin. Sound quality was also good, though not as good as some Bose systems I’ve used in other business-class cabins.

The hard-cased amenity kit was by the Italian luggage brand Bric’s.

Bric’s amenity kit on Starlux. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The amenity kit contained an eye mask and earplugs, as well as thin socks, a miniature toothbrush and toothpaste, and a comb. Moisturizer, lip balm and a face mist were by Huygens.

The excellent 4k-resolution inflight entertainment screen measured 24 inches. I counted 26 Hollywood new releases, as well as some classics like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

24-inch 4k screen in Starlux business class. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

More than 145 movies were available in total, including “Barbie,” “A Man Called Otto” and lots of Chinese films.

I especially loved the safety video, where you really got a sense of the “space travel” theme that Starlux loves so much.

Starlux safety video playing on a 4k screen. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Take a look at some of the still from this highly entertaining safety video.

I loved following our flight’s progress on the FlightPath3D moving map.

FlightPath3D moving map on Starlux. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Wi-Fi was free for business-class passengers for the length of the flight. I had no trouble logging into the Wi-Fi, but the speeds weren’t great. I was also booted off the internet a couple of times.

How was the food in Starlux business class?

An offering of Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs Champagne after takeoff. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The food and drink offerings on Starlux were superb.

Once on board, business-class passengers were served a welcome beverage of fresh cucumber and mint juice along with a cool towel.

Green juice is a welcome drink on Starlux. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Ryan came by to introduce himself and brought the juice for me.

A little later, another flight attendant named Ivy came by to say hello and take my dinner and breakfast order. The menu was quite impressive.

Ivy holding a Starlux business-class menu. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Starlux also allows passengers to preorder meals online. However, since I couldn’t pull up my reservation ahead of the flight, I couldn’t take advantage of that option.

Printed menus were at every business-class seat, but a flight attendant took the time to walk me through the options for both dinner and breakfast. It was a lovely service touch that I haven’t found on many international business-class flights.

Starlux menu in business class. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

The main options were:

Grilled prime beef tenderloin with a potato puree and grilled vegetablesBaked salmon with a cheese and barley risottoBraised abalone and chicken with oyster sauce and egg fried riceCheese grits with charred carrots and mixed vegetables

The starter options were:

Grilled sous vide octopus with a tricolor potato saladSpinach cream soup

For the prelanding meal, the options were:

Chinese meal: Congee with vegetable pork frittata, poached chicken and traditional side dishesWestern meal: Classic English breakfastWestern meal: Braised beef short rib hashWestern meal: French toast with a mixed berry compote

Right after we took off, flight attendants came by to offer another welcome drink. They were pouring Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blancs Champagne, which retails for about $100 a bottle. I chose to have a signature Starlux drink — the Sci-fi Cosmos 2.0. I had the nonalcoholic version, which was too sugary for me, but I loved the concept. I bet if it had the gin it was meant to be mixed with, the drink would have been delicious.

Starlux Sci-fi Cosmos 2.0 nonalcoholic cosmopolitan. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

Other booze available included Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Bacardi rum, Grey Goose vodka and Asahi and Heineken beer. A Taiwanese white wine from Weighstone Vineyard in Musann was available, as was a Shiraz cabernet sauvignon from Australia’s Penfolds Koonunga Hills.

The first course came on a single tray about an hour into the flight. It consisted of octopus salad and a hot spinach soup served with water and a section of warm pieces of bread.

I’m not a huge seafood fan, but the octopus was delicious with a tender, spicy flavor; the potato salad finish was fresh and tangy. The celery soup was absolutely delicious, with a hearty, healthy taste. The one miss for me was the bread, which tasted a little dried out.

I ordered the beef tenderloin as my main course, and the steak came shortly after the flight attendants cleared the appetizers. The steak looked a bit undercooked at first glance — a rarity in the air — but it was superb and the best steak I’ve had during a flight. It was full of flavor.

The mashed potatoes served with it were also tasty, with just a hint of smoke. There was a lovely gravy base on the dish, too, which was subtle and added a little salt to the mix. Finally, fresh steamed carrots and zucchini rounded out the meal.

Desert was a sweet congee soup labeled as peach gum and white fungus, with a small plate of fresh fruit and a small Amedei chocolate from Tuscany, Italy. I wasn’t a fan of the congee, which the flight attendant said was a popular dish among Taiwanese women as it’s supposed to help the skin.

I polished it off with Whittard’s “Sleepy” tea with a blend of camomile and lavender flavors. Meal service ended with a flight attendant bringing a cool washcloth. What a nice touch.

After a few hours of sleep, I took a peek in the business-class galley (where I boarded the plane); there were snacks set up in the galley, including bags of mixed nuts, premade sandwiches, miniature Snickers bars, Biscoff cookies and Nature Valley granola bars. The flight attendants offered me a sandwich or noodles, neither of which appeared on the printed menu.

After a few more hours of sleep, I decided noodles would hit the spot. They told me it would take about 15 minutes, but in the meantime, they brought me a Coke Zero and some snacks to tide me over. It was another lovely service surprise.

About two and a half hours before arrival, flight attendants came by with another cool towel and offered a breakfast wake-up peach juice. It was delicious. Not long after, I received a cappuccino. It was so good that I asked for a second and a third. There’s nothing like fighting jet lag with caffeine.

Two hours before landing, a breakfast course of salad with charred zucchini and artichokes, roasted sweet pepper and tomato was served. That came on a tray alongside Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts inside and a side of Taiwanese lychee honey to mix into the yogurt. There was also a selection of breads that tasted much fresher at breakfast. My favorite was an apple Danish pastry.

The appetizers were followed a few minutes later with a main course of what the crew called a braised short rib hash served with a poached egg. It tasted more like steak and potatoes on sourdough toast. It was a very hearty meal, especially since I’d had noodles just a few hours ago.

The flight attendant also showed me the Asian breakfast of congee and let me snap a photo. As if that wasn’t enough, she also brought out more coffee for me and another fruit plate.

Overall, I was left very impressed, both with the food options and with the incredible service I received during mealtimes and in between. I never had a chance to get hungry or thirsty, and flight attendants were constantly available. In fact, multiple times, they proactively offered me treats or even full meals.

Would you recommend Starlux business class?

Friendly flight attendant on Starlux. CLINT HENDERSON/THE POINTS GUY

I had a blast checking out a fairly new airline and its luxurious business-class product. I had equally good service and soft products on the return from Taipei to Los Angeles. Both of my flights went by too quickly. I was thrilled with my journey on Starlux and would happily fly it again. I’d love to try out that first-class seat someday.

I also got to check out the airline’s brand-new Galactic lounge that just opened in Taipei in February and experience its cool “Star Trek”-like interior and inflight videos.

Service was excellent — among the best I’ve experienced in business class. In fact, I’d rank it up there with Japan Airlines’ first-class service I had on a flight from Tokyo to New York, which was previously my high-water mark.

Flight attendants were friendly and engaging, and the one time I rang a call button, an attendant was at my seat within 30 seconds. Flight attendants were excited to chat with me and even kneeled to address me at face level during our interactions. Delivering quality service is clearly a main focus, and my flights offered immense proof of that spirit.

The one area I’d like to see improved is the redemption. Right now, first-class seats are not available for partner bookings and business-class availability, while not lacking, is too expensive. I scored an incredible deal considering I can’t find flights now for less than 165,000 miles one-way. Cash prices are also uniformly high, and it would be great to see a little more pricing flexibility in all classes of service.

I really recommend you look for an opportunity to try out this up-and-coming airline. I’m excited to see where Starlux goes from here.

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