Starlux Airlines review: You know, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

Starlux Airlines business class seats

Can you believe it? This is my second airline review within the span of 10 days, and let me tell you: it feels just like old times. The really cool thing about it is that it’s not just a regular airline review. It’s a Starlux Airlines review, which is something that I’ve been dying to create since last fall.

I mean that in the most metaphorical way possible of course. I flew this particular flight over seven months ago, and I’m just now getting around to posting this review. “Dying” may not have been the correct word to express my enthusiasm, but it was still an incredible flight and I am very glad to have had the experience. Starlux Airlines business class is amazing.

JX721
Taipei, Taiwan (TPE) – Penang, Malaysia (PEN)
Friday, February 28, 2020
Aircraft: A321-252NX
Registration: B-58203
Duration: 4 hours 24 minutes
Seat: 3A (business class)

Starlux Airlines A321 side view
Starlux Airlines A321 side view illustration by Norebbo.com
starlux airlines a321 seat map
Seat map of this Starlux Airlines A321 (courtesy of Starlux) showing my seat (3A) for this flight to PEN.
JX721 flight track
Our route from Taipei to Penang today as JX721

The video review of this amazing Starlux experience

This is the part of the Starlux Airlines review where I redeem myself for that opening paragraph. I created (and published) this video just one week after taking this flight down to Penang last February. See? I was just as excited about it as I said I was.

Come to think of it, I actually cut the footage for this video the day after I took this flight. I wrote and recorded the voice over approximately five days later. Technically, this was probably the most excited that I’ve ever been about making an airline review video. Starlux is an amazing airline, and it was really neat to be able to experience it in it’s first few months of service.

I sourced the music for this video through Epidemic Sound (as always), and you’d be doing yourself a huge favor by having a look at their vast library of music specifically made for YouTubers. If you can’t find what you’re looking for over there, it probably doesn’t exist.

Please note: some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. This means that I will get paid a commission if you buy something or take an action after clicking one of them.

How much did I pay for this Starlux Airlines business class flight down to Penang?

Not as much as you would think actually! The grand total, with all taxes and fees included, came out to $573.90. Keep in mind that what was for a one-way business class fare on one of the best airlines in Asia. Some may label that as obscenely expensive for a 4.5hr flight, but as you’ll see in the pictures down below, I fully believe that it was worth every penny.

Because I used my American Express Platinum Card to make the purchase, I earned 2870 Membership Rewards points for this flight. Yep, the AMEX platinum gives you 5X points on all airfare purchases – Starlux Airlines included.

Pros and cons of Starlux Airlines A321 business class

Spoiler alert: there are a lot more pros to Starlux business class then there are cons. This is an amazing airline which was built from the ground up to do everything better than its competition. From what I experienced, they are following through on that mission magnificently.

Pros

  • Starlux business class is an incredible value for the money. Yes, the seats are similar to what you might find on some other airlines (they are based on the same seats in Air China business class), but the cabin crew and meal options are fantastic.
  • Speaking of food, this flight down to Penang was my best business class meal ever. It was easily restaurant quality, and something that I would’ve paid upwards of $30 for on the ground.
  • The cabin crew was the most professional and friendly that I’ve experienced in a very long time. Come to think of it, the only other cabin crew that I’ve ever experienced that was better than Starlux was on a Japan Airlines flight from San Diego to Narita back in 2018.

Cons

  • The Starlux lounge at the Taipei airport wasn’t all that impressive. The food was just OK, and the lounge itself was incredibly small. Granted, they only had but a few daily flights operating back in February when I flew with them, so I imagine they’ll move to a bigger lounge when they add more flights.
  • At the time of this writing, their flights are still very limited. They’ve experienced some growing pains (especially due to COVID-19) and growth has been slow. In other words, they don’t have a vast network of flights yet.

The full video transcript of this 4.5 hour flight down to Penang (which was too short by the way)

If you haven’t watch the video yet, no worries! Below you’ll find the entire transcript of it (organized with pictures). As a matter fact, there are a few more nuggets of information in this section that I didn’t include in the video. See? It pays to read SANspotter trip reports!

Arrival at the airport

This was a really big day for me. As you could imagine, I was up bright and early before the alarm went off so that I could prepare for this Starlux business class experience down to Penang Malaysia.

The shuttle bus ride felt incredibly slow – even though there wasn’t any traffic and the driver was going the speed limit. Isn’t it funny how things move like molasses when you’re super excited about something?

TPE airport departures entrance
Hey everyone, my name is Scott, I’m the founder and author of SANspotter.com, and I’m here In Taipei this morning to catch Starlux airlines flight number 721 to Penang Malaysia.
Starlux Airlines check in TPE airport
Spoiler alert: this ended up being the most depressing airline review I’ve ever done. Why? Well…
Starlux Airlines check in counter
…today is February 28th, 2020 and thanks to the Coronavirus, Starlux isn’t doing so well.
Starlux Airlines departures
They’re down to just one daily flight now, and who really knows how long they can keep that going.
TPE airport departures hall
It’s kind of empty in here this morning. See what I mean about this being depressing?

The Starlux Galactic Lounge at TPE

As usual, I didn’t read any reviews about the Starlux Airlines business class experience before doing it for myself. Therefore, I was really surprised to see how small and compact the Starlux Galactic Lounge was here at TPE. The food was fine, and the staff was extremely helpful. However, it definitely felt tight and it would’ve been a lot worse if there were more people packed in there with me.

Starlux Airlines Galactic lounge entrance TPE
I’m flying business class today, which means that I get access to the cozy (but well-stocked) Galactic Lounge.
Starlux Airlines Galactic lounge food TPE
There’s a fairly decent spread of food in here, but what fun is that when you know that all the employees know that they are on the brink of unemployment?
Starlux Airlines Galactic lounge food and drinks TPE
I’m surprised they all weren’t hanging out near the alcohol.
Starlux Airlines Galactic lounge hot food TPE
The food in here wasn’t amazing or anything…
Starlux Airlines Galactic lounge interior TPE
…and it was probably the smallest airline lounge I’ve ever been in, but…
Starlux Airlines Galactic lounge inside TPE
…the Galactic Lounge is really nice. Damn you Coronavirus!

The boarding process for flight number 823 down to Penang

I thought that it might be a good idea to leave the lounge early to head down to the gate. I wanted to be sure to get really good pictures of that beautiful new Starlux A321 sitting outside, and I didn’t want to be distracted by other passengers.

It turns out that my concerns were completely over blown. The gate area was empty, and it became obvious right away that this was going to be a very empty flight today.

gate A8 TPE
Gate A8 is where the magic is happening this morning, and I was getting really excited about this as I was preparing to walk through that door.
gate a8 at TPE
*crickets*
empty Starlux gate TPE
Shouldn’t there be, like, people here? Uh oh. This really isn’t looking good for Starlux.
Starlux Airlines A321
The star of the show today. With just about as many people outside as there is inside.
Gate A8 TPE mural
As I was walked around getting pics for my trip report, I couldn’t help but to think that I was going to have an entire A321 to myself today.
SANspotter selfie TPE
It’s a weird feeling being extremely excited and sad at the same time.
boarding Starlux flight
Unfortunately for me, more people showed up just before they initiated the boarding process, and I wouldn’t have an entire crew waiting on me hand and foot on the way down to Penang.
Starlux A321 boarding door
Fortunately for Starlux, more people showed up.

Starlux Airlines A321 business class first impressions

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves, but all in all I was not disappointed. Starlux has an amazing business class product – even here on their little A321s. As expected, everything was tidy and clean, and the cabin crew was beyond professional. I felt right at home.

Starlux cabin crew
Dang it. This was supposed to be a fun and informative review of an exciting new startup airline that had the potential to be huge. Instead, it’s turning into a weepy documentary of an airline on the brink of extinction. I hate when that happens.
Starlux Airlines A321 economy cabin
A quick look at the economy cabin before sitting down.
Starlux Airlines business class seats
Starlux Airlines business class seats. Fluffy pillows and blankets too? I’m liking what I see so far!
Starlux Airlines business class
Although…what do you suppose happens to this all this stuff when an airline goes out of business? I know I should be rooting for their survival, but I’m calling dibs on these seats.
Starlux pre departure drink
Watch out jetBlue Mint – looks like you’ve got some competition in the “neon green pre departure drink” category.
SANspotter man pose
As I sat here in the worst man-pose possible sipping it all up, I couldn’t help but to think that Starlux is the clear winner.
Starlux Airlines headphones
Can I call dibs on these noise canceling headphones with Starlux logo as well? These are cool!
Starlux Airlines business class seat details
Oh, and back to review footage for a sec: here are the power and audio ports, located just above my left shoulder.
Starlux Airlines business class menu
Another spoiler alert: the food here in Starlux business class is (was?) incredible.
Starlux business class menu
Of course I had no idea as I was sitting here looking at the menu for the first time, but…it was probably the best thing about the entire Starlux experience.
Starlux Airlines A321neo safety card
Another thing I really like about Starlux is their branding. This is one of the nicest looking safety cards I’ve ever seen!
Starlux Airlines Galactic branding
The whole “galactic” vibe is fun and unique. Why do all the good airlines have to die?

You know what this world needs? A comprehensive Starlux review in the way that only Trips with Rory could do it. I’m just glad I beat him to it, since I was able to call first dibs on the seats. I’m greedy like that. 

Starlux Airlines A321 experience
As much as I hate to think that Starlux Airlines days are numbered, it was hard not to feel like I was having a really good time so far.

And, just for the record, I wasn’t the only one having a good time today.  Every single Starlux employee I had encountered up until this point had been extremely happy and helpful. Maybe they’re all excited about the prospect of being unemployed? I don’t know…

Getting settled in

You know those kind of flights where everything just feels right? The kind where you are extremely happy with your seat choice? When everything is running on schedule? And most importantly – when you’re not feeling an ounce of stress? This was one of those kinds of flights.

Starlux Airlines Review
What stress? Things seem to be quite relaxed in here just shortly after takeoff.
Starlux Airlines playing cards
When’s the last time you’ve been on a flight where the cabin crew handed out decks of playing cards?
Starlux Airlines noise canceling headphones
I can’t say that I was tempted to initiate a friendly game of poker with my seatmate to see if maybe I could score a second pair of these cool noise canceling headphones.
Starlux branded ink pen
Complimentary (and super snazzy) Starlux-branded ink pens too!

What’s the food like in Starlux business class?

Two words: restaurant quality! The menus, the presentation of the food by the cabin crew, and the food itself was just about as perfect as it can get on an airplane. Starlux has set the bar for what fine dining should be at 35,000 feet. For me anyway.

Starlux Airlines business class appetizer
The appetizer: pickles and cheese on a stick, and a cheese filled pastry.
SANspotter selfie Starlux Airlines
Sorry. There’s probably a really fancy name for this stuff, but…y’all know I ain’t fancy.
Starlux Airlines business class lunch
As depressing as this Starlux review has been so far, I have some really good news: this lunch entree was probably the BEST business class meal I have ever been served.
Starlux Airlines drinks
Complimenting the meal was a mint-flavored cocktail which (quite frankly) kicks the crap out of the mint drinks JetBlue is serving these days.
Starlux Airlines business class dessert
Dessert was okay. JetBlue has got nothing to worry about here.
Starlux vs JetBlue
And yes, I do realize that JetBlue and Starlux are not direct competitors. However, Starlux does have a very JetBlue feel to it, so thats why I keep making the comparison.

And just like on JetBlue, I still couldn’t figure out how to look cool stowing a tray table. If I did, there would be pics for that. But I’m not, so there isn’t. So there. 

That after lunch glow

Good news: stretching out on (in?) these Starlux A321s is really easy. It didn’t take long to configure my seat in a way which allowed for optimal beef noodle digestion, and I was pretty much on top of the world for the rest of the flight down to Penang. Both figuratively and literally.

Starlux Airlines blanket
It may be steamy hot inside this airplane, and I most certainly don’t need this blanket, but I’m gonna demonstrate it anyway since I know that’s what Neil from the Moments In The Sky YouTube channel would do.
SANspotter selfie Starlux business class
I wanna be like Neil!
Starlux Airlines A321neo business class
To kick off the loo review, I need to offer a huge apology to my seatmate:  I’m sorry for tripping all over you as I tried to get out into the aisle!
Starlux Airlines a321neo business class lavatory
And…I promise to wash my hands to prevent spreading deadly coronavirus germs. The business class lavatory was really nice by the way.
SANspotter selfie Starlux
Just a minor adjustment here, and…yeah…that’s nice.
Starlux Airlines video entertainment
What else is nice is the video entertainment system. And basically this entire experience so far. As long as I don’t think about the impending demise of this airline, I’m good.

Final thoughts on the Starlux A321 business class product

I’m going to wind down this Starlux Airlines review by telling you that this is an airline that I’m going to keep my eyes on. They really impressed me on this four an a half hour flight down to Malaysia, and I absolutely cannot wait to try their long-haul business class product in the future. FYI, they just ordered 17 Airbus A350’s, which signals exciting times ahead for this company. I can’t wait to watch them grow!

Raising the window shade
And now, let’s pick it up on the approach into Penang…
landing in Penang
Wait, what? We’re landing already? As much as I was looking forward to visiting Malaysia for the first time, getting stuck in a holding pattern for an hour (or 5) wouldn’t have been a problem for me.
Starlux Airlines pre landing snack
A pre-landing snack to officially end the in flight service.  And would you look at that? A star to represent Starlux airlines. God I hope this airline survives!
Arrival in Penang Malaysia
Okay, here’s where things get a little bit depressing again. As of March 8th 2020, Starlux officially dropped this route to Penang due to low demand. That’s unfortunate, because just look how beautiful this place is!
Approach to Penang airport Malaysia
Welcome to Penang! Although that’s not something you’ll get to experience on Starlux anymore, I do have hope they can hold on long enough to survive the coronavirus situation.
Starlux A321neo windows
This was a *fantastic* experience, but wow. What an unfortunate time to be launching a new airline.
Penang airport jet bridge
Just a feeewwww more inches….
End of Starlux flight
Regular viewers of my videos know that the unbuckling of my seatbelt upon arrival can only mean one thing: Gushy and heartfelt shoutouts to my amazing Patrons, of course!  To Joshua Bedel and Riley Wingo and everyone else: I love you guys!
arrival in Malaysia
Oh my God I’m in Malaysia. Scratch another destination off my list!
Penang airport temperature check
A brief temperature check is how this Starlux review ends, but don’t you worry: I passed that, I’m healthy, and I’ll catch you in the next one!
Penang airport terminal
If I stay healthy that is. *cough*

Comments (2)

  1. James

    September 22, 2020
    • Scott (SANspotter)

      September 23, 2020

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