Review: Starlux Business Class

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, Other Airlines

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I provided an in-depth review of Starlux Airlines’ A321neo business class on the flight from Taipei to Penang the day prior, so I’ll keep this relatively short. In that installment I talked about how I booked, the amazing service, the cabin layout, etc. Since all of those were the same on the return flight, I’ll gloss over those points.

After hanging out in the Plaza Premium Lounge I headed down to the departure gate ahead of the scheduled 2:30PM boarding. Starlux Airlines was departing from gate A5, just a short walk away.

The plane had just arrived from Taipei. How pretty is Starlux’s livery? Unfortunately I couldn’t get a good exterior picture of the plane, because there’s a glass barrier quite a distance from the windows, because that’s where arriving passengers are directed.

Starlux Airlines A321neo

The reality is that Starlux Airlines doesn’t plan long enough turns in Penang. The plane is scheduled to arrive at 2PM and depart at 3PM, with boarding scheduled for 30 minutes before departure.

30 minutes isn’t enough to deplane everyone, clean and cater the cabin, and change the crew. Ultimately this isn’t a big issue since they seem to pad the schedule a bit anyway, but in general I think it’s not a good look when an airline sets a boarding time that just isn’t realistic.

It was announced a couple of times that boarding would be delayed, and finally at 2:55PM boarding started, with business class passengers invited to board first.

Starlux Airlines departure gate Penang

Starlux Airlines 722
Penang (PEN) – Taipei (TPE)
Tuesday, January 28
Depart: 3:00PM
Arrive: 7:45PM
Duration: 4hr45min
Aircraft: Airbus A321neo
Seat: 2K (Business Class)

Ah, back on the beautiful Starlux Airlines A321neo! This time around I was greeted by only one Grace and one other flight attendant, as the other Grace was working economy this time around (and she even came up to me during boarding to say hello and apologize she wasn’t working business class today — hah).

This time around I decided to sit in the first row of business class (row two), which is definitely the better row to sit in.

Starlux Airlines A321neo business class seats


Starlux Airlines A321neo business class seats

That’s because the first row has significantly larger footwells than the second row.


Starlux Airlines A321neo business class seats


Starlux Airlines business class footwell

Within a few minutes I was once again offered the signature cold-pressed guava and pineapple pre-departure drink, along with a warm towel.


Starlux Airlines business class pre-departure drink

At around 3:15PM the captain added her welcome onboard, informing us of the flight time of 4hr14min to Taipei. As we waited to push back a SilkAir A319 pushed back ahead of us.

SilkAir A319 Penang Airport

A China Airlines 737 bound for Taipei also pushed back a couple of gates over — China Airlines and Starlux operate the same route at very similar times.

China Airlines 737 Penang Airport

The door closed around 3:15PM, and economy was mostly full, while seven of the eight business class seats were taken. I had an empty seat next to me, though that didn’t end up lasting.

At 3:20PM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened. At 3:30PM we began our taxi, and at 3:35PM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 4. I enjoyed the views on the climb out, as I didn’t have a window seat on the flight into Penang.

View after takeoff from Penang


View after takeoff from Penang


View after takeoff from Penang


View after takeoff from Penang

The seatbelt sign was turned off about five minutes after takeoff. While I wasn’t going to actually sleep during this fairly short daytime flight, I figured I should recline the seat and get a picture of it in bed mode.

Starlux Airlines business class bed


Starlux Airlines business class bed

I connected to the (complimentary for business class) wifi and got some work done. Soon enough the crew came through the cabin to start the meal service.

Starlux Airlines free business class wifi

The menu read as follows (the drink list was the same as on the previous flight, so check out the previous review for all the details of that):

To start I had a glass of Bollinger champagne, and was offered the amuse bouche, consisting of chicken breast and smoked salmon.

Starlux Airlines business class meal — amuse bouche

As was the case on the way out, service was at a leisurely pace, but still very attentive.

About an hour into the flight one of the flight attendants apologized that someone would be sitting next to me during the meal — in the second row of the cabin there was a family of four (including a lap infant), so one of the people would be sitting next to me so they’d have a bit more space, which was of course totally fine.

About 90 minutes after takeoff I was served the meal, which I had pre-ordered. Both the appetizer and main course were served together.


Starlux Airlines business class meal — appetizer & main course

The starter consisted of a grilled scallop with noodles, satay chicken skewers, and rojak.


Starlux Airlines business class meal — appetizer

For the main course I selected the grilled red snapper with laksa noodle soup.

Starlux Airlines business class meal — main course

To finish off the meal I was offered a fruit and cheese plate, and a nyonya cake. Yum.


Starlux Airlines business class meal — dessert

I then ordered a cappuccino, which was served with a chocolate square.


Starlux Airlines business class cappuccino

The meal was excellent and service was flawless, just as on the way out. I spent most of the flight working, and before I knew it were were only about 80 minutes from arriving in Taipei.

Airshow enroute to Taipei

About an hour before landing, immigration forms were handed out, and Starlux pens were even proactively provided (which I of course had to keep). 😉

Starlux Airlines pen

At around 7:10PM the captain announced we’d be landing at 7:50PM. About 15 minutes later the cabin was prepared for landing, as we had a rough approach due to weather.


Airshow enroute to Taipei

There was quite a bit of turbulence, and despite the bumpy approach, we had a smooth landing at 7:50PM. From there it was just a five minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we parked next to a China Airlines A330.

Arrival gate Taipei Taoyuan

Starlux Business Class Bottom Line

As was the case on the outbound, my Starlux flight was excellent — the service, amenities, food, and drinks, were all top notch.

I can’t wait until Starlux Airlines gets A350s and starts operating long haul flights!

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Comments
  1. The food looks absolutely sublime. But talk about unfortunate timing for a new airline given the coronavirus issue. But airlines, which are ultimately the worlds most complex business models given the incredible algorithms that govern their running, are susceptible to anything and everything tipping their finances from black to red in an instant.

  2. Ben, appreciate that you reviewed this airline airline so early in operation – cant wait to try them as well.

  3. One hour to turn around an A321 is hardly an issue. EK does 75 min turn arounds for a 77W in stations like MAA. And based on my experience, it works fine.

  4. @VJ
    SIA schedules 50 min turns for 777s in Jakarta. And most of the time, they’re on schedule.

    I know JL and NH do that too with their domestic flights

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