Tawainese luxury carrier Starlux Airlines is launching nonstop flights from Taipei to Los Angeles in April.
The carrier will use Airbus A350 aircraft equipped with first, business, and economy class cabins.
Unlike other startups that launched as low-cost carriers, Starlux entered the market as a full-service airline.
A new airline is heading to the US this spring.
On April 26, Taiwanese luxury carrier Starlux Airlines will launch its first-ever flight from Taipei to Los Angeles.
The route, which will compete with established Taiwanese carriers EVA Air and China Airlines, will fly five times a week until June when it will ramp up to daily service.
A fleet of Airbus A350-900 aircraft will power the transpacific trek, journeying 12 hours across some 6,800 miles.
Starlux also flies the Airbus A330neo and the Airbus A321neo aircraft — the narrowbody plane being equipped with lie-flat business class seats.
The company's first A350 was delivered in October and is part of an 18-strong order that was first placed in 2018 — back when there was little known about the startup.
Starlux was founded by aviation tycoon Chang Kuo-wei, the former chairman of EVA Air — a highly-acclaimed Taiwanese airline decorated with awards for safety and service.
Source: EVA Air
His father, Changi Yung-fa, founded EVA. But, a power struggle erupted after Yung-fa's death and pushed Kuo-wei out, opening the door for Kuo-wei to use his experience to build a competing carrier.
Launching its inaugural flight in January 2020, Starlux bills itself as a "luxury" airline promising a full-service experience.
It's actually one of the few startups to not enter as a low-cost carrier, like Avelo Airlines in the US and Norse Atlantic Airways in Europe.
The airline's new flight to the US will be its first route outside of Asia. Starlux hoped to start long-haul flights sooner but its 2020 launch was unlucky timing as COVID halted travel about three months later.
Nevertheless, the company will soon achieve its US milestone. Starlux already has partnerships in place, including with the LA Clippers, and it hopes to eventually join an airline alliance, COO KW Nieh told Executive Traveller in 2021.
Starlux's A350s will be configured with 306 seats across four cabins, including 240 in economy, 36 in premium economy, 26 business, and four in first.
First and business come with the expected bells and whistles of premium cabins, including a privacy door and a lie-flat bed…
…a side table and a cubby for storage...
...a large seatback screen...
...power ports (including wireless charging), a mirror, and a remote...
...a large tray table...
…and “Zero G” seats that help reduce fatigue on long-haul treks.
Moreover, decorative wall panels will put "passengers at ease as they board the aircraft," according to Starlux.
First class does come with a few added perks though, including a wardrobe and a 60-inch-high sliding door, which is about 12 inches higher than business.
Moreover, it has a 32-inch flatscreen TV — business class offers a 24-inch screen.
But, these are the main differences. First does not boast a separate bed like what is seen on carriers like Singapore Airlines or Qantas' upcoming A350-1000.
The first class placement at the front of the cabin is actually similar to what airlines like JetBlue Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways are doing with their "business class plus," which offers more space using the bulkhead.
While business and first are nice, a majority of Starlux passengers will sit in the economy sections. According to the carrier, regular coach has a 3x3x3 layout with adjustable headrests, a 13-inch seatback screen, and power ports…
…while premium economy is in a 2x4x2 layout with added amenities, like a footrest, a legrest, and 40 inches of pitch. The screen is also larger at 15.6 inches.
It's important to note that Starlux's widebody plane is one of the first New Production Standard A350s produced, meaning it is four inches wider than its predecessors and has improved performance.
Airbus launched the redesign in September with the option to have 10 seats per row in economy — a way to compete with Boeing's upcoming 777X.
However, Starlux has opted to keep the traditional nine-abreast seating on its A350s, so its premium and regular coach seats can offer more space and comfort.
Moreover, the new A350 design also offers dimmable windows that block 99.99% of visible light. This, combined with Starlux's special ambient lighting, can help reduce jet lag.
While each cabin screen on the A350 is a different size, every TV will offer 4K resolution and Bluetooth capabilities, meaning personal wireless headphones can be used onboard.
Moreover, all Starlux passengers can pre-order meals on the Taipei to Los Angeles flights.
The airline says it will offer "exquisite dining including Taiwanese signature dishes" that will create an "at-home experience in the air."
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