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Starlux Airlines: First look at premium economy, economy cabins on the Airbus A350


Editors’ note: Starlux provided TPG with a free round-trip business-class ticket for the inaugural U.S. route. All opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and were not subject to review by Starlux.

You may have never heard of Starlux Airlines before, but after taking a look at the cabins on the carrier’s brand-new jet, you may want to give them a try.

Starlux is a Taiwanese luxury airline that wants to become “the Emirates of Taiwan.” The carrier started flying intra-Asia routes in January 2020, but it paused its ambitious growth strategy once the pandemic hit a few weeks later.


Fast forward to today, when the carrier embarked on its biggest expansion yet — service to North America, and Los Angeles in particular.

Starlux now flies between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) using the 306-seat Airbus A350-900, with onward connections available to 16 popular destinations within Asia, including Bangkok and Singapore. The airline plans to add San Francisco service later this year, with more routes to the U.S. “coming soon.”


What sets Starlux apart is the onboard experience. It’s the only Taiwanese carrier to offer a long-haul first-class cabin, and it also offers a top-notch new business-class suite that rivals some of the world’s best airlines — trust me, I just flew it on Starlux’s inaugural U.S. departure.

What about the onboard experience in the back of the plane, though? Well, I had the opportunity to tour the jet before departing from L.A., and you’re sure to like what you see.

Premium economy on Starlux Airlines’ Airbus A350

Starlux offers a premium economy cabin on its Airbus A350 fleet, which is primarily deployed on long-haul missions.

The 36-seat cabin is configured in a 2-4-2 arrangement spread across five rows.

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Couples should undoubtedly choose seats along the windows, while those traveling as groups of three or more may prefer sitting in the center section.

I imagine the middle seats will be the last ones to be reserved, so beware if you’re booking close to departure.

That said, the seats appeared quite comfortable, offering 40 inches of pitch and generous recline. (That’s 2 more inches of pitch than Delta offers in Premium Select on its Airbus A350 — a very noticeable difference.)

The six-way adjustable headrest, combined with the retractable legrest and footrest, should make it easier to get comfortable at night. In fact, I appreciated that every single seat in premium economy featured a legrest and footrest — on some airlines, the footrest is reserved for the bulkhead seat only.

Speaking of the bulkhead, I’d consider avoiding a seat in the first row of the cabin (Row 20). That’s because the entertainment monitor is built into the wall in front of you, making it much harder to watch your content at a comfortable viewing angle.

The advantages to the bulkhead are that no one reclines into your space and that you enjoy a bit more room around your feet.

Aside from the bulkhead, the rest of the premium economy recliners are created equally — there are no missing windows in this cabin.

I was quite impressed with the design of the premium economy cabin. The mood lighting, the earthy tones on each seat and the gold-colored seatbelt — the carrier did a great job making the cabin feel homey and inviting.

Each seat features a bi-fold faux-wood tray table that’s stored in the center armrest. Measuring 16 inches wide and 10 inches long, it’s certainly big enough to hold a laptop or iPad, or an entire meal tray.

I was impressed with the 15.6-inch seatback entertainment screens that Starlux installed. Aside from the crisp 4K picture quality, they also feature Bluetooth connectivity, so you can connect your AirPods or other wireless headphones without a dongle.


You can control these screens with your finger or with a retractable remote built into each armrest.

In terms of power and connectivity, there’s a universal AC outlet, 60-watt USB-C charging port and a standard USB-A port at each seat. These ports are between each seat in the center console, so you shouldn’t have any issues with wires going all over your seat.

Starlux’s A350s feature Inmarsat GX Aviation-powered satellite Wi-Fi. Premium economy and economy flyers can access a free messaging plan, with usage-based internet packages starting at $4 for 30 megabytes.

With pricing based on usage, expect your Wi-Fi bill to rack up if you’re trying to stay connected to data-intensive websites or applications when flying in premium economy or coach.

The one thing that the premium economy cabin lacks is ample storage. Of course, there are overhead bins, but aside from the water bottle holder and the large literature pocket, you won’t find much room to keep your belongings at your seat.


In addition to the recliners, premium economy passengers enjoy elevated food and beverage offerings, a small amenity kit and a more luxurious pillow and blanket.

There is one dedicated premium economy lavatory located at the front of the cabin on the starboard side. It’s lined with a large mirror and a Starlux design motif, giving it a more spacious and modern feel.


Round-trip fares from L.A. to Taipei start at around $2,400 in premium economy and $1,500 in economy.

I don’t necessarily think that premium economy is worth a nearly $1,000 buy-up, but you could instead redeem Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles for the ticket at a lucrative introduction rate of 40,000 miles each way.

Economy on Starlux Airlines’ Airbus A350

The 240 economy-class seats on Starlux’s Airbus A350 are arranged in a two-cabin configuration.

The forward cabin spans rows 30 to 41, while the aft cabin goes from rows 50 to 69. The cabins are nearly identical, with all seats arranged in a 3-3-3 layout. There are no missing windows in either cabin.

That said, I’d avoid sitting in the last few rows of the plane (from rows 65 to 69), as the curvature of the plane means that the seats along the window won’t have as much shoulder room. Also, the crew rest is above this section of seats, so the ceiling isn’t as tall and there aren’t any overhead bins here.


Also, the bulkhead and exit row seats are designated as extra legroom, and the airline charges at least $160 more to reserve them.


Note that Starlux sells rows 32 through 37 as “forward” seats, and it costs $70 or more to reserve these — a buy-up that’s likely not worth it.


Most economy seats measure 17 1/2 inches wide and offer between 31 and 32 inches of pitch — pretty standard for most full-service international airlines. The exit row and bulkhead offer tons more legroom, but the proximity to the lavatories and galleys may be bothersome.


The economy seats are pretty much an off-the-shelf version of Recaro’s popular economy-class product, though Starlux added a few bells and whistles to make the flight experience more comfortable. (It’s worth noting that these aren’t slimline seats like you’d find on a no-frills airline.)


This includes a six-way adjustable headrest that should help cradle your neck when it’s time to relax or sleep.


Additionally, each seat sports a built-in cupholder and device stand that’s the perfect place to keep AirPods or your loose cables during the flight.


Each seat is equipped with a 13-inch 4K high-definition entertainment screen that also features Bluetooth connectivity for pairing wireless headphones.


There are two universal AC outlets and two 60-watt USB-C charging ports for every three economy seats.

If everyone in your row needs to charge their device, you’ll, unfortunately, need to switch off with your seatmates unless you use the personal USB-A charging port under your entertainment screen.


The bi-fold tray table pops out of the seat in front of you, and it measures 15 inches wide and 10 inches long.


There are six lavatories for the 240 coach passengers — four are located between the two economy cabins and two are located in the back galley.


Starlux’s A350 is also the first of its kind to feature dimmable windows. This somewhat-controversial feature first debuted on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and some flyers love it, and others hate it.


Personally, I prefer this new Airbus window to Boeing’s existing offering. The dimming function happens much quicker, and I found the slider control to be more intuitive.


The economy cabin is designed with similar beige, gold and gray motifs as the premium economy cabin, so it should also feel quite relaxing and welcoming once you step inside.

Bottom line

Starlux is the newest carrier flying to the U.S., and it’s one that should be on your radar, especially with its ambition to become one of the world’s best airlines.

Premium economy flyers will enjoy at least 8 inches of additional pitch and wider, more comfortable seats than the standard coach offering. That, combined with the elevated onboard service, should make the premium economy experience feel a lot closer to business class than to economy.


Unfortunately, Starlux’s introductory premium economy fares are nearly $1,000 more than coach, so unless you’re redeeming Alaska miles, it may not make sense to splurge for the upgrade.

If you do end up sitting in economy, at least the experience should be better than what you might expect from other new airline startups. From high-tech seatback screens to a range of power and connectivity options, you’ll stay entertained and full of juice throughout your flight.

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