There’s some good news for anyone holding Alaska Mileage Plan miles, with a new partner coming on board in the form of Starlux Airlines – Taiwan’s self-professed “detail-oriented luxury airline”, which has just launched its first long-haul services between Taipei and Los Angeles.
It has now been announced that the two airlines have formed a partnership, which will ultimately see reciprocal miles earning and redemption, in addition to connecting interline itineraries that should be mutually beneficial for the carriers.
In the months ahead, that will mean transpacific Business Class award space at a competitive 60,000 Alaska miles each way – something to definitely keep a look out for in case it fits with your travel plans.
The news comes after Starlux recently confirmed it is upgrading its Singapore – Taipei route to the Airbus A350, including a First Class cabin.
You can now earn Alaska miles on Starlux flights
Alaska Mileage Plan members can earn miles for taking paid flights on Starlux with immediate effect.
The following earning rates are applicable, based on miles flown.
For example, a paid round-trip Business Class flight from Singapore to Los Angeles via Taipei on Starlux can now earn you 43,975 Alaska miles – enough to redeem a Business Class flight from Hong Kong to the UK with Cathay Pacific.
To earn miles, you’ll have to enter your Alaska Mileage Plan frequent flyer number when booking with Starlux, or contact the Starlux US reservations centre on 1-833-971-0012.
For most of our readers, crediting paid Starlux flights to Alaska Mileage Plan will be a no-brainer, given that the only current alternative is the carrier’s own Cosmile scheme.
Even discounted Economy Class itineraries earn 100% of mileage flown – something Cosmile does not offer.
While Alaska miles have certainly suffered a big blow following the unannounced devaluation of Japan Airlines awards, it’s still possible to get great value from them on award flights with Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Finnair, among others.
You can soon redeem Alaska miles on Starlux flights
The most exciting element of this new partnership – redeeming your Alaska miles on Starlux flights – is not quite available at the moment.
Fear not though, this option is coming soon.
Alaska Airlines has confirmed that once Starlux redemptions become available this summer, one-way award rates between Taipei and Los Angeles will start at:
- Economy: 20,000 miles
- Premium Economy: 40,000 miles
- Business: 60,000 miles
In Business Class, this is comparable with the excellent 50,000 Alaska miles rate when redeeming on Cathay Pacific flights in this cabin between Singapore and the USA.
These rates for Starlux flights will supposedly only last “for a limited time”, so expect a hike in due course (Alaska is good at that, and don’t expect any advance notice!).
There has also been no confirmation of any intra-Asia award rates, or the total outlay for those travelling from Singapore to Los Angeles via Taipei, for example. Stay tuned for the latest on that.
Starlux has great cabin products
One of the most notable things about Starlux is the top-end cabin products and service the carrier is offering, significantly eclipsing the local competition, especially in premium cabins.
The carrier’s new Airbus A350s feature the Collins Elements suite in a 1-2-1 configuration, with 48-inch-high closing privacy doors.
The carrier’s regional wide-body Airbus A330neo fleet, operating routes like Bangkok-Taipei, has impressive Safran Skylounge Core Business Class seats.
Even the carrier’s Airbus A321neo jets have a very decent 2-2 product that converts to a fully flat bed.
Fine dining is offered, as is a dedicated premium lounge at the carrier’s Taipei hub, plus amenities in all cabins. The A350s even have a (very expensive) First Class ‘row’.
Ultimately though, from a passenger experience perspective, what Starlux is doing is easy… for now.
Showering travellers with products, services and perks they don’t normally see on other carriers is no major issue while you are gaining market share and reputation, and you don’t need (nor is there any realistic prospect of) profitability.
“The proof is in the pudding”, as they say, and it will be very interesting to see how Starlux adapts its offering once the reality of returning a profit to investors becomes a pressure point, as the airline scales towards critical mass in the years ahead.
Will Starlux join Oneworld?
With only 20 aircraft in its fleet, Starlux is probably too small to join one of the three major global airline alliances right now, but that certainly doesn’t mean alliance membership isn’t in the carrier’s sights.
Back in August 2021, the Starlux Chief Communications Officer told Executive Traveller that “once we have reached a certain level of growth, we will certainly become a member of an alliance to provide more convenience to our passengers”.
Competing Taiwanese carriers EVA Air and China Airlines are members of the Star Alliance and SkyTeam partnerships respectively, leaving Oneworld as the only logical alliance for Starlux to tie-up with.
Indeed Alaska Airlines, the first carrier Starlux is partnering with, is the most recent Oneworld member.
While that’s still a hypothetical scenario, it would be great news for many of our Singapore-based readers, since it could open up awards such as Singapore – Taipei for 22,000 Avios in Business Class, or Singapore – Taipei – Los Angeles for 90,000 Asia Miles in Business Class, at current redemption rates.
The major stumbling block may be Cathay Pacific – a Oneworld founder airline – who could veto Starlux’s entry into the alliance given the proximity and overlap of its own market.
Another alternative is that Starlux could become a Oneworld Connect airline, rather than a full member. This is another aspect to keep a close eye on in the years ahead, as it may be integral to the carrier’s long-term success.
Prior to this Alaska Airlines partnership, there was no practical way for most of our readers to use miles on Starlux flights.
The news that Alaska miles earning is now possible, and that redemption will follow in the months ahead, is a great improvement on the previous situation, particularly as Starlux is setting itself apart from the competition with a great hard and soft product – for now at least.
It will be very interesting to see how Starlux develops its long-haul network now that Los Angeles flights have started, and what future airline or even alliance partnerships will be developed in the future, potentially allowing even more miles earning and redemption opportunities with the carrier in the years ahead.
(Cover Photo: Omid Behzadpour / Shutterstock)