Exciting: Starlux Airlines Tickets Now On Sale!!!

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Update: See here for a review of Starlux Airlines Lounge in Taipei, and see here for my review of Starlux Airlines’ A321neo business class. Unfortunately Starlux Airlines has now suspended operations through April 30, 2020, due to reduced demand.

I’ve written in the past about Starlux Airlines, which is probably the new (legitimate) airline that I’m most excited about. All along we’ve been told that the airline will commence operations in January 2020, and tickets have now finally gone on sale… I can’t wait to fly with them!

What Is Starlux Airlines?

Starlux Airlines will be joining both China Airlines and EVA Air as the next airline based in Taipei. The airline has huge growth aspirations, as Starlux has 10 A321neos on order, as well as 17 A350s (split between the -900s and -1000s).

Starlux Airlines A321neo

While the airline will initially operate regional flights, long term the plan is for the airline to operate long haul flights, including to the US (they’ll get their first A350 in 2021).

What I’m most excited about is that while most new airlines nowadays seem to be budget airlines, Starlux Airlines is going upmarket. The company’s slogan is “born to be luxury, shining like stars,” the company’s vision is to be “the Emirates of Taiwan,” and they describe themselves as a “detail-oriented luxury airline.”

Their A321neos feature fully flat beds in business class, free Wi-Fi in business class, etc.

Starlux Airlines business class seats

Starlux Airlines Tickets Now On Sale

Up until a few days ago, a lot of us have been confused about why Starlux Airlines’ tickets haven’t gone on sale, given that the airline was planning on launching operations in a matter of weeks.

The delay in ticket sales was because the airline had been waiting for an air operator certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA). The CAA finally completed the review of the carrier’s application, and it should be finalized shortly.

Anyway, Starlux Airlines has officially put tickets on sale as of today (11AM Taipei time on Monday, December 16, 2019).

Starlux Airlines will launch operations in January 2020

Now that fares have been published, let’s take a look at the routes, schedules, and fares for their flights:

Starlux Airlines Routes, Schedules, And Fares

Starlux Airlines will initially operate routes from Taipei Taoyuan International Airport to three destinations — Da Nang, Macau, and Penang. Those are three fascinating first routes for an airline that claims to be about luxury, eh?

In April 2020 the airline will also launch flights to Cebu.

It’s interesting to note that the airline will be starting operations with three A321neos, and they seem to be using a single plane for each route (so based on the length of the route they operate anywhere from one to three roundtrips per day).

In all cases they plan roughly an hour to turn around the plane, which is sufficient when operations run smoothly, but any sort of weather/maintenance/ATC delay could cause huge ongoing issues with their operation, especially for their Macau flight, as the route is operated 3x daily with one plane.

The schedules and business class fares for the three routes will be as follows:

Taipei To Da Nang Flight

Starlux Airlines will operate the ~1,047 mile flight between Taipei and Da Nang 2x daily as of January 23, 2020, with the following schedule:

JX701 Taipei to Da Nang departing 7:40AM arriving 9:35AM
JX702 Da Nang to Taipei departing 10:35AM arriving 2:20PM

JX1701 Taipei to Da Nang departing 3:20PM arriving 5:15PM
JX1702 Da Nang to Taipei departing 6:15PM arriving 10:00PM

Roundtrip fares from Taipei to Da Nang in business class start at ~953USD.

Taipei To Macau Flight

Starlux Airlines will operate the ~525 mile flight between Taipei and Macau 3x daily as of January 23, 2020, with the following schedule:

JX201 Taipei to Macau departing 7:25AM arriving 9:25AM
JX202 Macau to Taipei departing 10:30AM arriving 12:15PM

JX203 Taipei to Macau departing 1:05PM arriving 3:10PM
JX204 Macau to Taipei departing 4:10PM arriving 5:55PM

JX205 Taipei to Macau departing 6:45PM arriving 8:40PM
JX206 Macau to Taipei departing 9:40PM arriving 11:20PM

Roundtrip fares from Taipei to Macau in business class start at ~617USD.

Taipei To Penang Flight

Starlux Airlines will operate the ~1,945 mile flight between Taipei and Penang 1x daily as of January 23, 2020, with the following schedule:

JX721 Taipei to Penang departing 9:20AM arriving 2:00PM
JX722 Penang to Taipei departing 3:00PM arriving 8:00PM

Roundtrip fares from Taipei to Penang in business class start at ~969USD.

Thoughts On Starlux Airlines’ Fares

There are a few interesting things I’m noticing about Starlux Airlines’ fares:

  • While flights are rarely priced proportional to distance, if you do want to enjoy Starlux Airlines, their Penang flight represents the best value; it’s nearly double the distance of Da Nang, and fares are only marginally more
  • One-way fares are only slightly more than half of roundtrip fares
  • The fare difference between Starlux’s three fare types (Saving, Basic, and Full) are minimal compared to what you’ll find at other airlines, where a full fare ticket may be exponentially more than the cheapest ticket
  • It could be a website glitch, but as of now tickets just seem bookable when originating in Taipei, and not when originating at any of their outstations; when trying to book those tickets I get a message saying “not yet open, please look forward”

Starlux Airlines’ Product Looks Incredible

Starlux Airlines’ founder is the former CEO of EVA Air, which is known for their incredible business class product. I’m so enchanted by what Starlux Airlines is promising. Of course at this point it’s all marketing, though I actually feel like they could be incredible?

Even on these short flights they’ll offer full pre-orders for meals, fully flat beds in business class, proper bedding, free Wi-Fi in business class, noise canceling headphones, and more.

The airline has a signature fragrance, and they have their own gelato flavor… wow!

If the airline is half as good as they promise, and if their attention to detail is anywhere close to what they’re promising, than this may be my new favorite airline in the world.

 

Bottom Line

Starlux Airlines’ fares seem quite reasonable, given the exceptional product they are promising. Under $1,000 for roundtrip flat bed business class on this new airline for nearly 10 hours of flying to & from Penang is something I can’t turn down, so I plan to book my ticket for shortly after they launch operations.

I have huge respect for Starlux Airlines’ founder and wish the airline all the best, as I love the concept of an airline actually trying to offer a differentiated product. That being said, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a bit puzzled by their business model, at least the way they’re initially launching.

Taipei is already a competitive and crowded market, and Da Nang, Macau, and Penang, seem like three odd inaugural destinations for a “luxury” airline.

Starlux Airlines has also launched their COSMILE frequent flyer program today, and I’ll be taking a closer look at that in a separate post.

Anyone else planning on booking a ticket on Starlux Airlines?

Comments
  1. I vote for Penang. Food capital of Malaysia. Maybe a stay at an independent hotel in Georgetown like the Edison or Macalister Mansion (Design Hotel).

    If Danang, a stay at the Sheraton Grand near Hoi An would be interesting as it’s a pretty new property.

  2. Da Nang you could tie in with the (incredible) Four Seasons Hoi An. Although depending on when you are planning to go, it might be rainy season…

  3. Penang-Macau and review both airport lounges in these airports plus the flagship TPE and hotels in Penang and Macau

  4. They also announced inflight amenities and catering.

    Including Taipei Michelin starred restaurants to provide menu items for business class. The Y set up also looks fantastic.

    Blankets, amenity kits, noise cancelling headphones to be provided in J as well.

    They really are trying to care out their own niche brand in the crowded Taiwan market.

  5. Their choice of destinations doesn’t exactly shout “luxury” to me…and what’s going on with 3x daily Macau? HKG-TPE is already the busiest international route out there. They are going to have a hard time fitting in.

  6. Meanwhile Far Eastern Air Transport, another Taiwanese airline ceased operations a few days ago…granted, it was a regional airline, but still.

  7. I was looking forward to my trip to Penang but I honestly didn’t love the city and found the hyped up street food to be not that great. Loved our hotel though, we stayed at the Eastern & Oriental and it was great.

  8. Travelers with allergies should be warned about the smell:

    STARLUX hopes to make flying even more relaxing and memorable by developing an exclusive fragrance it calls “Home in the Air.” The airline enlisted a local perfume manufacturer P.SEVEN to help produce this refreshing fragrance.

    “Smells can be an indelible part of our memories. A certain aroma can remind you of a specific place and time. I tried to develop a fragrance that could evoke the pleasant feeling of flying with STARLUX,” said Pan, founder of P. SEVEN. Multiple formulations were developed and put to a vote to allow STARLUX employees to choose the which of the offerings would become the airline’s signature fragrance.

    “Home in the Air” evokes the tranquility of home and the expanse of the galaxy. Notes of various woods and leather have been combined to elicit the warmth of mother earth, while the aromas of iris and violets conspire to create a calm and soothing cabin environment.
    Passengers will encounter the new fragrance not only on STARLUX flights but at the airline’s ticketing counters and lounges. It will also be featured in the lotion and hand wash dispensed in economy class and the hot towels used to welcome business class passengers upon boarding. STARLUX hopes to make their customers feel at home when stepping into any space of STARLUX.

  9. Another vote for Penang!
    I have stayed at Eastern & Oriental before and love the colonial touch.

    From Penang, you can fly directly to Phuket on Fireflyz twin otter ATR plane.

    You can view many new hotels in HKT and dozen airlines to fly ex-HKT.

  10. Try Penang, given you like nature and the Penang Hill is a great place to walk and relax. Perfect for weekend.

    The town itself felt hyped, but yes, it’s fun to walk around.

    PS: I stayed in KL for 2 years, and drove to Penang which was quite enjoyable

  11. Hoi An is an amazing city to visit for the real colonial Vietnamese feel … but it is mainly about food. The seaside resorts between DaNang and Hoi An all look pretty amazing but seem like they could be anywhere.

  12. Another vote for Penang and the E&O Hotel. It was the first hotel by the brothers who opened Raffles in Singapore and has a similar vibe.

  13. Go to Penang. Just there. The food is what makes Penang a great stop. MacAlister Mansion is very cool. Rooms are what make it. Would like a review on the Hyatt there. Hyatt s closer to downtown George Town. I’m hyped about Starlux as it offers a way to get to Penang without going to KL or Singapore first.

  14. Do they have any partner airlines at this point? Any roadmaps to join an alliance? Probably one world since the other two alliances already have a Taiwanese airline

  15. Da Nang. Try intercontinental. It is a long way from anywhere but amazing. Then spend a few nights in hoi an. I would avoid the resorts along the beach front as imo still too far from
    Hoi am and the beach is often too far from hoi an. I prefer staying closer to hoi in. I have been seven times as I lived 2 hours away. Great food!

  16. As you don’t eat pork, you’re not going to be a huge fan of either destination.
    Vietnam would be a safer bet and there are times of luxury hotels in that area, that might be more suitable for your travel style.
    I’m a huge fan of Penang and one of my favourite restaurants is there. Da Nang was ok, but Hoi An was a bit of a tourist trap. There are better places to visit in Vietnam. Don’t miss out on the local jackfruit if it’s in season though.
    There are no good airport hotels in Taoyuan, so you might have to head into Taipei if you’re staying a night.

  17. There’s high hopes for starlux in taipei particularly due to how ambitious the CEO is. The CEO use to be son of the EVA conglomerate and ran EVA airlines. He was ousted from the company once his father passed away and decided to use a good chunk of his assets to start up Starlux. He’s honestly a future-oriented CEO and if anyone knows how to run an airline, it’s him. Excited for the future of Starlux.

  18. Just thought I would add a but more about hotels in Da Nang. Other options include the Hyatt. According to several of my friends it is fantastic. They all have kids. It is a really well designed hotel for families. The advice from my friends is don’t stay there unless you have kids. The Nam Hai (Four seasons) is lovely. I also really like Fusion Maia – where you supposedly get unlimited spa visits. The reality is that they guarantee 2 a day and you need to book them in advance. IMO based on several trips, that whilst the beach is lovely it is often not swimmable as too rough. Then there is Hoi An itself. There is an Anantara – but not nearly as nice as other Anantara’s. I stayed there a couple of times as I was GHA black. IMO not really good value for money (I don’t mind paying a lot but want it to be worthwhile). I stayed at the Historic Hoi An Hotel when I went to meet friends for a weekend – it is cheap but adequate (good value for money). Slightly out of Hoi An is the “Victoria Hotel”. It is cheap and I really like their most expensive room. Food is just OK but lovely pool. Sadly the main beach has eroded away.
    All that aside – I still think the Intercontinental is the best but a long way from anywhere. It is just different to other hotels. Full disclosure I did go there within weeks of it opening so it was still very sparkly and new.
    If you do go to Danang / Hoi An I can provide restaurant recommendations.
    As for Penang not really a fan simply because I think there are better places to go, but I do realise loads of people like it. I would jump on a Firefly or Air Asia flight and go to Langkawi. Loads of high end options there. Personally I love the Datai. I have not been since it reopened after renovations but I am told it is amazing.

  19. Travelled to both Da Nang and Penang. Stayed at the E&O in Penang and the Banyan Tree north of Da Nang. We enjoyed both, though the E&O is more 4-star than 5-star.

    For review purposes, I’d be interested to read your take on Macau though.

  20. Fascinating first three routes for an airline to select, eh?

    Fascinating it is. They seem to be aiming at 2nd tier leisure routes. I guess they are trying avoid competing with AirAsia so they can charge a decent airfare. Price of LCC in Asia is just amazing, not good for airlines that doesn’t have scale.

  21. Ben,
    Thanks for publishing this article. There is a very high probability my son will be transferred back to Tokyo soon. That’s just a quick flight to Taipei. I love Taiwan but am excited about the possibility of returning to Penang, Vietnam and Macau also. Penang, regardless of what has been said is a fantastic stay and I personally love the food from the night markets. I would definitely stay in the Georgetown area and take a ride around the area in one of their decorative rickshaws. Of course any trip to Penang would include a visit to Penang Hill. Can’t wait to see it all again.

    It’s been several decades since I was in Macau but I’m guessing it’s done nothing but improve. The last time I was in Macau I won the number on Roulette spins two out of three times in a row. I picked up my chips and walked out, all the time being screamed at by the croupier! What an adventure!

    Lastly I’m sure my return to Vietnam will be a little less nerve wrecking. My last visit was in 1973 and I was a buyer for an amusement park chain. The VietCong were sending mortars into the runways and we were stuck after what we thought was going to be only a brief fuel stop between Hong Kong and Bangkok.

    We spent three days in that steamy airport waiting for a brief respite from the continous mortar rounds. The thought crossed my mind several times that after escaping the draft, I was possibly going to be a victim of the Vietnam war after all. Hardly any water and nothing but a few salty snacks to ingest, but thank God we finally were able to leave on the 4th day after the Allied forces cleared the mortar attacks out of the way for enough time for us to leave. I’m sure this gorgeous country will be a wonderful experience this time around! I have yearned to return for many years.

  22. Here’s another vote for Penang!!! Love the historical vibes mixed with modernity.. the food options were phenomenal.. I’ve tried the Durian Chendol and it was the best thing ever!

  23. @Cliff @Ed

    Macau is an underrated route and is constantly full for the following reasons:

    1) Taiwanese people loves to vacation in Macau, it’s a short flight and the food is great. Now the numbers are only climbing now that Hong Kong is not feasible for visits.

    2) There are an abundance of Taiwanese expats and businessmen with families living and working in the Zhuhai/Dongguan/Huizhou area. Macau is their best option due to proximity and price (flights out of Shenzhen and Guangzhou are expensive. Many of these people used to also fly out of HKG due to the large number of flights to TPE/RMQ/KHH from there, but are now choosing Macau instead due to the unpredictability and long security now at HKIA.

    3) With the exception of some BR flights that also serves as cargo, most Macau-Taiwan flights are served with A319 or A321, so the number of seats are not much to begin with.

    4) If Starlux indeed have “luxury experience” (especially in Y), then their only competitor is BR as Tiger air is LCC and Air Macau is pretty much worse than LCC. There used to be four carriers serving this route (BR, NX, tiger, transasia), starlux will be taking over the transasia slots.

    The CEO of starlux is actually the son of the previous EVA CEO’s concubine, and is not legally his son. The legitimate son and the board forced him out after their father’s death (although rumors have it there was an undisclosed settlement). He has an inner drive to rival his old company and the route selection of Da Nang is not surprising as BR is also starting service to DAD this upcoming spring.

    The Taiwanese aviation market can be competitive yet profitable if operated the right way (which the new starlux CEO certainly has). BR is trying to win back the customers after the recent strike, CI is basically ran by a bunch of morons and the government, the mainland China carriers are slashing number of flights per the big red’s order. Now is not a bad time to enter the market for Starlux, especially if they can differentiate themselves product wise. Maybe a membership in oneworld is on the horizon?

  24. How about popping down to CXR and go to Amanoi?! You know Ford would love you for it! Gorgeous spa, yummy food. You can even snorkel right in the bay. I would say snorkeling is a bit better than La Samanna. Obviously make sure you avoid raining season there. I read it can get windy but didn’t experience it myself when I was there earlier this year.

  25. Ben, gotta try Penang. The pearl of the orient. I’ve lived in Penang for 4 years now and it’s an awesome little city with some interesting hotels (not many that are points hotels though). As mentioned above E&O is a great product and will reopen from a huge renovation this month. There’s a few Shangri La properties and even a Hard Rock Hotel in Penang. Quite the variety.
    There’s also got to be the shortest Qatar Airways flight in the world here. If you’re curious to try a 15 min (in air) flight on a Qatar 787 then this is the place as they operate to Langkawi via Penang in both directions.

  26. While their hard product looks good, it would be very hard to survive in such a crowded market with an “ambitious” fleet plan.
    To put it bluntly, there is no way to have an Emirate-style airline based in Taiwan. Tensions with mainland means they cannot get any transfer passengers from there (since the mainland government insists flights to Taipei are “domestic” and Chinese citizens cannot travel on passport). What is worse, they cannot even fly over Chinese airspace, making flights to Europe very inefficient. The only realistic markets are between the USA and ASEAN countries, which is a very crowded market, and many of the competitors are state-owned that do not worry much about their bottom line at all. How does one see a new niche for a large carrier given that even China Airlines is strugling?

  27. @ TLS….

    What are you talking about as far as “either location” and pork? Penang is a great location. Numerous halal places in George Town and on Penang Island. The island is majority Malay/Muslim.

  28. @ Expathotelier… E&O is open. I was there last month. My issue with the E&O is that it is flooded with tourists in the lobby.

    @ Lucky… You would love the MacAlister Mansion Rooms. Only 8 and they did a good job. Stayed there last month. Feel you should stay there, but think you could actually do a review on it and the Hyatt property.

    Also, If you have the small kid still in you they just opened the longed tube water slide on Penang – 1.1km long.

  29. Very interesting that if you click into product comparison, even “Saving” level fares include priority check-in, luggage handling, lounge access and boarding priority (…so who doesn’t get priority…?).

  30. I too find the business model a bit strange. I’ve taken quite a few flights on both EVA and China Airlines in long haul business class and were blown away by the soft and hard products on offer (WAY above Emirates). Hard to see how Starlux could be so much better and compete in the long run. That said, i really look forward to Lucky’s review! 🙂

  31. Also vote for reviewing the Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula, have heard so much about it so wondering if the hype is true (or not).

  32. This business class seat is so 2010. They should have gone with the Jetblue, TAP or Aer Lingus business class seat.

  33. Interesting you can only seem to book ex-TPE.
    Im looking at MFM-TPE-MFM and get “Not yet open, please look forward !”
    but when I look in the reverse I can price it up.

  34. You can call and book a ticket to TPE since it can’t be booked online. Also gives cheaper one ways than ex-TPE. Phone agent was very friendly and efficient.

  35. Stayed at Grand Sheraton Da Nang over Labor Day (after staying at the Hilton in town). Sheraton was a bit far from things, but I used my stay there to relax. Beaitiful property and one of the biggest pools I have ever been in.

  36. Looks like 2-2-2 seating, right? That combined with no F cabin, has this start-up sitting firmly outside any luxury category.

  37. Tickets to Macau sold out in six minutes; tickets to Danang sold out in nine and tickets to Penang sold out in 11 minutes,” Liwen Liu, director of STARLUX’s corporate communications division tells CNN.

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