Review: Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge Taipei Airport

Filed Under: Other Airlines

After months of anticipation, the day was finally here — it was time to fly Starlux Airlines! I can’t even begin to describe my level of excitement and anticipation, as there’s something I enjoy way too much about having no clue what to expect from an airline.

The last time I was this excited about a flight was when I flew Air Belgium for the first time, except in this case I actually came in with high expectations.

Starlux Airlines Check-In Taipei Taoyuan Airport

My flight from Taipei to Penang was only departing at 9:20AM. However, I saw that the Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge opened at 5AM, so I showed up at the airport at 4:30AM, since I wanted to be the first person in the lounge to get pictures.

Starlux Airlines departs from Terminal 1 at Taoyuan Airport, and I easily found their check-in desk in row six. It was surreal to see Starlux Airlines in the “flesh” for the first time!

Starlux Airlines check-in counter

I had already checked in online, but figured I’d go to the counter for document verification, and in case they had a cool-looking boarding pass or luggage tags. When I got to the business class counter I was told that check-in wasn’t yet open for Penang, and that I should come back around 8AM (in over three hours).

I mentioned I already had a mobile boarding pass, and they told me that I could then proceed through security if I wanted. They then clarified that they thought I had checked bags, and that if I were checking bags I’d have to return later. It was a bit of an odd experience, but whatever.


Starlux Airlines business class check-in counter

From there I headed through security. This was the Monday after Chinese New Year, so the security queue was long, and it took about 30 minutes to get through.

Starlux Airlines Lounge Taipei Taoyuan Airport Review

With the check-in experience out of the way, here’s a look at Starlux Airlines’ Galactic Lounge. As you can tell based on the name, the airline has a space theme. If nothing else, they deserve credit for the coolest airline lounge name ever, no?

Starlux Airlines Lounge Location

Most of the lounges in TPE Terminal 1 are in the same area. When you pass security you can either turn left or right and walk down the hall, and then the stairs and elevators leading to the lounge are along the center of the terminal on level four, not far away.

Taipei Taoyuan Airport lounge signage

In this area there are the lounges for Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Plaza Premium, and Starlux Airlines.


Taipei Taoyuan Airport lounge signage

As you can see based on the below diagram, there are two separate China Airlines lounges and two separate Plaza Premium lounges. I’m not sure if this is by design, or just comes down to the challenges with taking over space in airports, where over time they were able to acquire extra space.


Taipei Taoyuan Airport lounge map

The Starlux Airlines Lounge is located between one of the China Airlines lounges and one of the Plaza Premium lounges.

Corridor with lounges in Taipei

Is that a swanky-looking lounge exterior, or what?


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge exterior

Starlux Airlines Lounge Hours

The Starlux Airlines Lounge is open daily from 5AM until 7PM. At least that’s what Starlux Airlines’ website suggests. For now most of Starlux’s flights are in the morning, though they initially had a 6:45PM Taipei to Macau flight.

However, temporarily they’ve suspended two of their three daily Taipei to Macau flights, which means their latest fight from Taipei is at 3:20PM. Therefore I would imagine the lounge actually closes earlier, since there are no passengers to use it in the evening.

How To Access The Starlux Airlines Lounge

The Starlux Airlines Lounge can be accessed by:

  • Starlux Airlines business class passengers
  • Starlux Airlines COSMILE Explorer members, who can bring one guest with them
  • Starlux Airlines COSMILE Insighter members, who can bring two guests with them

Starlux Airlines Lounge Layout & Seating

Wow, the Starlux Airlines Lounge is beautiful. The lounge consisted of one large room with plenty of seating. Inside the entrance and to the very right was the buffet, while the rest of the lounge was made up of a variety of seating options.


Starlux Airlines Lounge seating

Along the center of the lounge were a bunch of couches.


Starlux Airlines Lounge seating

Then in the far corner of the lounge were a dozen chairs by a wall-mounted TV.


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge seating


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge seating


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge seating

My favorite seating was along the far wall of the lounge, where there were cozy chairs with tables and power outlets that were perfect for relaxing and working.


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge seating

There were also a variety of magazines and newspapers along one of the walls.


Starlux Galactic Lounge magazines & newspapers

The lounge doesn’t have any natural light, but then again, none of the lounges in this area of the terminal do. That’s simply a limitation of the space they’ve been given.

As of now Starlux Airlines has just three A321neos, each with eight business class seats. This lounge is huge given the current demand:

  • I had the lounge all to myself from around 5AM until 6AM
  • Then from 6AM until 7AM there were about a dozen others in the lounge, traveling to Da Nang and Macau
  • Then I had the lounge to myself again for nearly an hour
  • Then at around 8AM, half a dozen people showed up who were also headed to Penang

It will be interesting to see what Starlux Airlines’ long-term plans are with this lounge. Finding the space to build a lounge at any airport is incredibly complicated. The airline has 10 A321neos and 17 A350s on order, so obviously this lounge won’t be large enough to handle all of those passengers.

Will they find a way to expand this lounge, will they open a second lounge, or…?

Lastly, I should note that as expected, the crowd in the lounge was incredibly excited. Every single person who came into the lounge was taking a bunch of pictures and selfies, since clearly no one booked Starlux Airlines in their first week of operation by mistake. These were all people who were very excited to be flying a new airline.

Starlux Airlines Lounge Food & Drinks

The Starlux Airlines Lounge has both a buffet, and a limited selection of a la carte dining.


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge buffet

While the buffet wasn’t huge, I was impressed by the quality of what was on offer. There were a variety of vegetables and salads, quiche, cereal, bread, and five hot dishes.


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge buffet


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge buffet


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge buffet

The hot dishes included massaman chicken, steamed fish with green onion, cream broccoli with olives, barbecue sausage with pickled cabbage, and pan-fried buns.


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge buffet


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge buffet


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge buffet

The dessert selection was perhaps most impressive, with Haagen-Dazs ice cream, I’m Talato ice cream, and some desserts from SEASON.


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge buffet

 


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge buffet

I had one of the fruit tart things, and it was honestly one of the best desserts I’ve ever had in an airline lounge.


Starlux Galactic Lounge fruit tart

As far as drinks go, there was a coffee machine, beer machine, a modest selection of liquor and wine, and a variety of soft drinks, water, and juice.


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge coffee machine


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge beer machine


Starlux Airlines Galactic Lounge liquor selection

Starlux Galactic Lounge drinks

In particular I was pleased to see that they had Evian and San Pellegrino, and also liked their selection of juices, including pineapple and carrot juice, which tasted a bit better than the Minute Maid garbage you’ll find in some other lounges.

Starlux Lounge drinks

In addition to the buffet, I was presented with a menu shortly after taking a seat in the lounge.

Starlux Galactic Lounge menu

The menu read as follows:

Since they didn’t have the fuhang soy milk set, I decided to order the benedict egg set. This was presented about 10 minutes after I ordered it, and was tasty.


Starlux Galactic Lounge eggs benedict

Starlux Airlines Lounge Service

The lounge was well staffed — there were two attendants in the lounge, and then two people at the front desk. The people at the front desk checked on each guest during their time in the lounge to see how they were enjoying their experience.

Meanwhile, the two attendants were attentive and constantly checked to see if anyone needed anything. Just to give an example of the attention to detail, I had finished a bottle of water and went to the bathroom, and when I returned the bottle had been replaced with a fresh one.

Starlux Airlines Lounge (Lack Of) Bathrooms & Showers

My only real criticism of the lounge is that it has no bathrooms. Rather you have to go out and use the public bathrooms in the terminal. Clean and private bathrooms is one of the most basic amenities you expect from a lounge, and that’s an area where they fail.

That being said, I feel like maybe they should be given the benefit of the doubt on this, given the attention to detail the airline has otherwise? Perhaps it just wasn’t possible or practical to have bathrooms in the lounge.

Starlux Airlines Lounge Bottom Line

The Starlux Airlines experience was off to a good start. The Starlux Galactic Lounge experience was excellent — the lounge is nicely appointed, with excellent food and service. This is better than any other lounge I’ve been to at the airport. The major downside is the lack of bathrooms in the lounge.

It will be interesting to see how this lounge evolves over time. This space is plenty big given Starlux’s current fleet, but once the airline expands significantly they’ll need more space. I wonder if they have a plan for that yet, and if that involves opening a totally separate second lounge, or what exactly is going to happen.

What do you make of the Starlux Airlines Lounge?

Comments
  1. You are definitely not a whiskey drinker – that blue bottle is Chivas Royal Salute 21 year, normally retails for $200/bottle in the US and is excellent. I wouldn’t care if it’s 5am when I’m in the lounge, I’d have at least a couple glasses of that! šŸ˜‰

  2. You forgot, that previously in SQ Lounges in Changi Airport, there is no toilets inside the Lounge too. You had to use the public toilets outside at the main terminal area. Itā€™s probably due to some airport restrictions. Good to know that these are slowly changing and Lounges are having clean private toilets plus shower facilities.

  3. If I recall correctly, itā€™s because that part of the terminal doesnā€™t have the infra setup for bathroom, I donā€™t think that row of lounges have bathrooms and have to go outside near the elevator.

  4. @ David — On the way back I visited one of each of the China Airlines and Plaza Premium lounges, and both had bathrooms.

  5. The lounge looks very nice, too bad about the modest wine selection.
    Speaking of the name, the “space” theme is so overused in Moscow Sheremetyevo airport lounges, where I’m based, for absolutely no reason. Galaxy lounge, Space lounge etc.

  6. You guys probably know this, Starlux’s founder is the son of EVA’s founder who got forced out post his father’s passing… so it almost doesn’t matter if Starlux itself has a USP or chance at survival. If Starlux turns out to be wildly successful, I’m assuming he could parlay that into a takeover/merger bid with EVA. And worst scenario, Starlux fails, the authorities would probably just make EVA absorb them.

    I’m hoping for the former, I avoid both EVA and China Airlines. I feel they both desperately lack Cathay’s professionalism. My eyes also can’t handle EVA’s garish aesthetic choices. Coming from that, Starlux looks very promising, as though someone can see what I see and shares my opinion – that lounge being a great case in point.

    The lounge thing is probably due to delays around TPE T3. Starlux can’t wait till T3’s done to launch (that would be what, 2030?). This might be the best? only? space TPE could carve out for them. Or someone recognized TPE T2 is a zoo and T1 is a nicer experience… no bathroom is a glaring oversight for any Asian carrier, though.

    Starlux A350s supposed will have F, so I wonder how that’ll be addressed lounge-wise.

  7. Giving you a bottle/a drink refill straight away without asking is putting you in an awkward situation. If you just leave it there, will it go back into the fridge later? How pleasant is that for the next person?

  8. Such a shame that they’ve launched when they have. I don’t expect they’ll be long for this world, unless things improve in the region quickly. I wish them all the best – there’s evidence of real investment here. I hope the flight was just as good.

  9. Seems like things are off to a good start; looking forward to the flight review!

    @stratifier Is there anything specific about EVA that makes them lack professionalism in your opinion? Iā€™ve flown both often and personally prefer EVA over Cathay.

  10. I always liked the name of Eastern’s Ionosphere lounge – – alas, classic EAL was long gone by the time I started flying…

  11. a “beer machine”?
    Is that like a coffee machine? You put water and some beer powder in it and it gets you a fresh beer?
    Maybe it’s because I’m not a native speaker, but I never knew such a thing existed,,,

  12. Would it be much suitable to use the term Lunar New Year instead of CNY? Why is your choice of words are so CCP??

  13. @Frank

    No, it pours beer like a bartender would pour beer from tap. Sometimes the machine will then add some beer foam on top.

  14. @David:
    But is “beer machine” really how you would call that?
    Maybe a beer tap, a beer pump, perhaps even a beer dispenser, but a beer machine just sounds hilarious to me…

  15. Chivas Royal Salute 21 year is indeed really good. However it is “only” priced at around $80~90 in Taiwan. Very generous that they provide that.

  16. General Terminal public bathrooms are a great alternative to dedicated Lounge bathrooms, said no one, ever!
    Oh, and how does a poached egg with sauce on half a muffin get to be a ‘set’ ?

  17. Your flight departs at 920a and they told you to come back at 800a if you wanted to check luggage? Even for a narrow-body flight, that’s not much time to check in a complete flight.

  18. @wpcoe they’re quite efficient in Taiwan at the airports, much more so than most countries I’ve been to.

    @Frank the proper ten is beer robot. Some even have special glasses that are filled from the bottom…

  19. @Mikey your comment shows your lack of awareness behind the backers of this airline. They are among the wealthiest in Taiwan, the only question should be whether they are concerned in the airline making or losing money in the long run, otherwise its going to be business as usual like the ME3s.

  20. I wish they swapped their current location with the free area Plaza Premium Operates in the middle, which would give JX with a larger footprint to operate a bigger lounge with existing bathroom and shower facilities.

  21. The Cathay Pacific lounge in Terminal 1 has bathrooms but no showers, and it’s probably one of the largest CX Lounge outside of HKG.

    I visited one of the Eva Air lounges in TPE Terminal 2, and with morning arrival of a bunch of flights from North America, it was overcrowded. It only has four showers, and I had to wait an hour plus to use one. Food was ok but simply put nothing special about Eva Air lounge.

    Starlux probably picked a bad time to start flying, but it looks like they got the lounge right at least.

  22. Lucky, I admire your dedication at getting to the airport at 4:30AM just to get undisturbed lounge photos.

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