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REX: Business Class between Adelaide and Sydney – first impressions

REX: Business Class between Adelaide and Sydney – first impressions

I have just completed my first Business Class flight with REX (Regional Express) Airlines on a capital city to capital city service. Before I write full reviews of the Pro Hart Lounge experience in Adelaide and the service in the air, I thought I would share some of my first impressions.


REX is predominantly a regional player in Australia that started flying between state capital cities just before the pandemic started using ex-Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800s. It now flies routes between most capital cities except Darwin and Perth. One of the more recently introduced routes is between Sydney and Adelaide.

a row of blue seats on an airplane
Economy Cabin REX Boeing 737-800 [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Just a little bit country

REX plays on its country roots quite a lot. The slogan emblazoned on their aircraft is ‘our heart is in the country‘. It’s an appealing thought – country hospitality, friendliness, and rural honesty. I would buy that. I would even buy a little hokey service if its heart were in the country.

The reality is, it takes on both the good and the bad of its regional origins but, fortunately, is never mawkish. Let’s start with what you experience first: the Pro Hart Lounge.

a group of people sitting in a waiting room
REXs Pro Hart Lounge in Adelaide – the aesthetic is eclectic, but in a jumble sale kind of way. [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

The Pro Hart Lounge

The lounge is named after an Australian bush artist, Pro Hart, who occupies an interesting place in the Australian Art world. Dismissed by many critics as a mere showman, his art was often considered populist and derivative. Not worthy of serious critical attention. In some ways, this is a fitting motif for REX, which has been seen by some critics as not a serious domestic contender for an airline.

However, I don’t think REX wanted to run a dated, dirty and under-designed ‘lounge room’, with minimal, if any, service.

This lounge is on the holding-cell end of comfort. The ‘red dust’ wall colour represents the outback, I get. But an evocative colour alone, a designed space does not beget.

And I know it sounds petty, but if you offer packaged chips and no bathroom within a lounge, can I at least have some paper napkins to wipe my hands on?

But a lounge is not an airline. How about the onboard experience?

food on a tray
Business Class meal unboxed. Beef Pie with grilled tomato, broccoli and asparagus, tomato sauce, brown bread roll, butter and berry friand & chocolate mint [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

Rex Business Class

The flight in REX Business Class was good, the seat was too, and we departed on time and arrived on time. Besides some brief turbulence on our descent into Sydney, it was a great flight. But not so much the catering. I know meat pies are a ‘little bit country’, but is something ordered at the footy really appropriate as catering on an airline?

OK, I hear you. Qantas serves pies on flights. But at least they are elevated in some way. Chicken with leek, beef with mushrooms or Guinness. This looked and tasted like a reheated Four’N Twenty

Service was very good during the meal service. And then all cabin staff disappeared to the back of the plane and were not seen until we commenced our descent. It was not a total problem until the passenger sharing my row spilled his wine. Sure, I could have hit the overhead call bell, but it was quicker to head to the bathroom and grab a handful of paper towels to help Frank mop up his spilled cabernet/malbec.

a seat in an airplane
My Business Class Seat 2C on REX Airlines flight between Adelaide and Sydney [Schuetz/2PAXfly]

2PAXfly Takeout

I think REX has a way to go if it intends to be a third force in the Australian domestic airline industry. First, it doesn’t have the frequency to destinations I like. It only flies three times a day to Adelaide, for example. Virgin Australia flies around six services per day and Qantas/Jetstar 11 times direct daily. In March, it looks like the REX service is dropping back to a single daily service.

The lounge is pretty terrible and could do with some investment in fit-out. I don’t expect fresh catering on the premises, but to not offer napkins is just … Add to that, sticky tables, dirty ageing bucket chairs and car park views, and the offering is slipping off the desirability list.

On board, improve the catering and brief cabin staff so that at least one member is at the front of the plane most of the time, and you have a competitive product. REX’s economy pricing is above Jetstar, but mostly below Virgin and Qantas. For Business Class its below both Virgin and Qantas by a couple hundred dollars or more.

Finally, our plane was less than half full – maybe 40%. At that rate, I’m not sure REX domestic can survive.

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