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Starlux reveals new A350 long-haul First and Business Class cabins

Starlux has received its first Airbus A350, which features brand new First and Business Class cabins, plus the launch of electro-dimmable windows on the type.

Taiwan’s self-professed “detail-oriented luxury airline” Starlux didn’t have the luckiest of launches in aviation history, with its inaugural flights between Taipei and Macau taking wing on 23rd January 2020, just as the global COVID-19 outbreak began to take hold.

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Despite that significant setback over the subsequent two years, that hasn’t stopped the airline from progressively expanding its services in Asia, and this week the carrier has started the latest chapter in its growth by taking delivery of its first Airbus A350, the future long-haul flagship of the fleet.

The first Starlux Airbus A350-900 at the Airbus delivery centre in Toulouse, France. (Photo: Airbus)

“This delivery is a milestone for STARLUX Airlines. The A350-900 is our first large widebody aircraft, which will allow STARLUX to open markets for longer routes, and this also marks the next step for our partnership with Airbus, as there will be 17 more A350 deliveries in the future. With the addition of the A350-900, the STARLUX fleet now can cover short, mid, and long-range flights, providing service to passengers outside of Asia.”

Glenn Chai, CEO, Starlux Airlines

Starlux will use its A350s on long-haul flights linking Taipei to Los Angeles from April 2023, but before that there will be opportunities to experience the latest four-class cabin on intra-Asia routes in the first quarter of next year, with Singapore a potential destination on the list.

The Starlux Airbus A350

This is the first of 18 Airbus A350-900s due to join Starlux, and will complement the carrier’s Airbus A330neo and Airbus A321neo jets, which are already in service on routes including Singapore – Taipei.

The aircraft can accommodate 306 passengers, with the following four-class layout:

  • 4 First Class Suites
  • 26 Business Class seats
  • 36 Premium Economy Class seats
  • 240 Economy Class seats
The first Starlux Airbus A350 lands in Taipei on its delivery flight. (Photo: Starlux Airlines)

Despite quietly dropping its order for eight Airbus A350-1000 aircraft earlier this year, in favour of taking more of the smaller A350-900 variant, Starlux has ambitious plans for its A350 fleet in the years ahead.

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The airline has already gained approval from Taiwanese regulators to operate flights to 15 destinations in the USA alone, including New York, Boston, San Francisco and Honolulu, though there are no firm launches announced yet beyond the carrier’s intention to launch Taipei – Los Angeles flights in April 2023.

The airline also plans to fly the A350s to Europe in due course.

Starlux A350 First Class

A single-row four-seat First Class cabin takes pride of place right at the front of the Starlux Airbus A350-900, in a new concept by BMW Designworks the airline calls “Glisten”.

A mockup of the Starlux Airbus A350 First Class suite. (Photo: Starlux Airlines)

These individual Suites boast 60-inch-high closing doors for privacy, plus a wardrobe to store your belongings.

A mockup of the Starlux Airbus A350 First Class suite. (Photo: Starlux Airlines)

A huge 32-inch 4K in-flight entertainment screen also features at each suite, the same size as those installed in the latest Singapore Airlines A380 Suites cabin.

A high-end finish including leather stitching is apparent in the A350 First Class Suite. (Photo: Starlux Airlines)
(Photo: Starlux Airlines)

Unfortunately for the time being Starlux has only provided these images of the mock-up cabin, currently on show at the Taipei International Travel Fair from today until 8th November 2022, if you’re in town and want to go and take a look yourself.

A mockup of the Starlux Airbus A350 First Class suite. (Photo: Starlux Airlines)

“For the exclusive service of First Class, please stay tuned, as we will soon disclose more detailed information”, says Starlux.

The First Class “row” on the Starlux A350 doesn’t seem to have a bulkhead cabin divider, with Business Class starting immediately behind it. (Image: Starlux Airlines)

With the launch of its A350s, Starlux will be the only Taiwanese carrier offering a First Class cabin.

Starlux A350 Business Class

Business Class on the Starlux Airbus A350-900 also gets the ‘Suite treatment’, with 48-inch-high closing privacy doors.

(Photo: Starlux Airlines)

This looks to be a customised version of the Safran Versa product, in a herringbone arrangement with window seats angled away from the aisle.

(Photo: Starlux Airlines)

Starlux opted for the Safran Skylounge Core Business Class seats for its A330neo jets.

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Each seat in this cabin boasts a 24-inch 4K in-flight entertainment screen, bigger than any SIA offers in Business Class, and unsurprisingly also converts to a fully-flat bed.

Stitching detail on the Starlux A350 Business Class seat. (Photo: Starlux Airlines)

One thing that jumps out to us initially is that the First Class and Business Class seats don’t look an awful lot different to one another.

In all likelihood, they are effectively the same product with the First Class ‘row’ featuring more space, higher walls and a larger IFER system, in a similar concept seen on the Malaysia Airlines A350 (the carrier now markets this former First Class row as ‘Business Suite’).

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It will be interesting to see more photos of the actual seats installed in the A350 cabin to see how exclusive this Starlux First Class section looks, and of course analyse the price differential between First and Business Class, once the aircraft starts flying long-haul routes.

Starlux A350 Premium Economy Class

Premium Economy on the Starlux A350 features 36 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.

Starlux A350 Premium Economy Class. (Photo: Starlux Airlines)

The A350s are the only aircraft in the Starlux fleet that include a Premium Economy cabin, with the airline’s A321neos and A330neos favouring a two-class layout (Business and Economy), for use on short to medium-haul routes.

Starlux A350 Economy Class

The largest cabin on the Starlux A350s is the 240-seat Economy Class section, which has a 3-3-3 layout – not so friendly for couples, unlike the carrier’s 2-4-2 layout in Economy on the A330neo.

3-3-3 seating in Economy Class on the Starlux Airbus A350. (Photo: Starlux Airlines)

These are the same Recaro CL3710 seats fitted to the airline’s A330neo aircraft, including a 13.3-inch 4K Ultra-HD IFE screen.

Starlux A330neos also use the Recaro CL3710 seat, but in a 2-4-2 configuration. (Photo: Starlux)

Electrically dimmable windows launch on the A350

One of the nifty new features on the Starlux Airbus A350s is one many of us are already familiar with when flying on the Boeing 787 – electro-dimmable passenger windows.

(Image: Airbus)

Starlux is the launch customer to add this option to its A350s, which Airbus claims will transition twice as fast between light and dark, plus block out more light, compared to the original versions on the market.

Now that electro-dimmable window (EDW) technology has matured, Airbus is pleased to offer this solution to its customers of the newest version of the A350 Family now being delivered. Compared with previous designs, the latest generation of EDWs, developed by Gentex, darken twice as fast and become 100 times darker than the original version. In addition, they can now effectively block more than 99.999% of visible light as well as the infra-red energy from the sun (which also helps to keep the cabin interior cooler and thus reduce the load on the air-conditioning system).

STARLUX Airlines, headquartered in Taipei, is the first operator to select these devices for its newly-delivered A350 aircraft.

Airbus

Will the Starlux A350 fly to Singapore?

While the Starlux A350s are primarily intended to launch long-haul flights to and from the USA, starting with Taipei – Los Angeles in April 2023, the type will initially ply intra-Asia routes in the coming months, while crew get up to speed on the new type.

There’s no confirmation at this stage that Singapore will make it onto that regional roster, but there’s a good chance it will, which would then provide our readers a great opportunity to try out these fantastic-looking products on 4.5 hour flights between Changi and Taipei, prior to the launch of those long-haul services.

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Currently Starlux uses its Airbus A330-900neo on daily flights between Changi and Taipei, which have a brand new Safran Skylounge Core Business Class cabin, boasting flat beds and direct aisle access.