First photos: Rex Boeing 737 business class

Regional Express brings competition to the business class skies, using the same seats (and planes) as arch-rival Virgin Australia.

By Chris Chamberlin, February 22 2021
First photos: Rex Boeing 737 business class

With Regional Express set to challenge Qantas and Virgin Australia for business travellers on the popular Sydney-Melbourne corridor, here's a first look at what greets passengers in business class.

At first glance, you've seen this all before: in Virgin Australia business class. That's because Rex's Boeing 737 fleet comes direct from Virgin Australia's stable of surplus aircraft, so with a few tweaks for the change of operators, they're good to fly.

Rex has, of course, removed the "Virgin" branding from these seats, and imprinted its own logo into the headrest, as part of its $150 million play to enter the domestic jet market.

As Regional Express is keeping the configuration the same as Virgin Australia, this means eight business class seats at the pointy end, arranged in a 2-2 configuration.

In terms of legroom, expect the same as you'd get flying Virgin, with 38 inches of pitch in business class.

As the first row comes with a bulkhead – and the need to place all your bags into the lockers for take-off and landing – travellers with longer legs or laptop bags in tow may prefer the second row.

Down in economy, those expectations should also match Virgin Australia, with Rex keeping Virgin's five extra-legroom "Economy X" rows (now dubbed "Rextra Legroom"), as well as the cabin's standard economy seats.

In fact, Rex is even keeping Virgin Australia's signature "royal purple" divider at the rear of business class. As Perspex is currently in high demand due to COVID-19, it remains to be seen whether this will be changed at a later date.

One thing worth highlighting, is that because these planes were among the oldest in Virgin Australia's fleet, they arrive without AC power in business class.

While the need for a power point on a quick 'golden triangle' flight is less pronounced – particularly with Rex having lounges in both Sydney and Melbourne – we'd hope these would be considered should Rex expand into longer domestic routes.

Rex's debut on the Sydney-Melbourne route is fast approaching, taking off on March 1.

It's a big step up for Rex, which to date flies only Saab 340 turboprops on regional routes, although its subsidiary Pel-Air already operates a small number of jet aircraft, including Learjet 35/36 and Westwind 1124 business jets.

Also read: Sydney-Melbourne airfare war as Qantas, Virgin Australia respond to Rex

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

08 Sep 2018

Total posts 19

Going to be bizarre flying in this machine. Virgin pilots, virgin cabin crews, Virgin seats and interiors. 

767
767

01 Mar 2021

Total posts 6

Only thing missing is reusable cutlery and velocity points! 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 791

Good luck to Rex for having a go, I sincerely hope it works out for them. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 307

Rextra leg room, that’s clever, I do like that concept and liked it at VA as well, something I wish QF would consider. 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 912

They sure haven't used much of their $150m cash injection on differentiating their cabin.

why would they waste money on that ?

AT
AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 348

Logo change aside in business class OK but then flying a current competitor's really obvious branding scheme in the main cabin where everyone can see it? Honestly and truely I know monies tight and times are hard but gee wiz that's tight!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 912

The minimal changes don't give you the impression that REX's mainline operation will be here for the long-term.

on the contrary, minimal changes mean minimal outlay. Do you really care what the interior of aircraft looks like, as long as not covered in advertising everywhere (ala Ryanair), is fluro pink or shabby ?

They want to conserve their $$$ as virgin/qantas will try anything to kill them off, but going to be hard especially for qantas. Qantas will probably just giving away more & more ff pts if you spend $x on your SYD/MEL fare. Doesn't mean there will be any more availability of ff seats.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 594

Crazy. Free advertising for Virgin as soon as you board.

not at all. Doesn't make sense to spend a fortune re doing interior + they are saying, fly Virgin but at lower prices (same aircraft, same crew, same engineers)

wish someone could come up with a measurement of legroom. Seat pitch doesn't equal legroom, it all depends on the seat & specifically the thickness of the seat back.

24 Feb 2012

Total posts 57

I’m happy that we are going to have a 3rd option for domestic business class and hopefully they will be successful and will launch more capital city routes over time. I just think they’d be better off separating their capital city and regional brands as flying Melbourne to Sydney on “Regional Express” doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe they could call it “Rex Jet” or similar but still have the booking systems integrated etc. Just a thought!

nothing wrong with simply Rex

OR

Rex Tex 

Have some cowboy shooting fares down, although that might be a bit too american (As in texan)

Typing 3 letters, r e x,  is very easy

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 63

The pics indicate they got rid of VA's white rope to divide Business and Economy too? That doesn't make sense if so, as it's a great feature to keep the toilets clean from the backside of the tailees.... 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 455

Mr Wilford and 'Hospitality' notes and appreciates your point, Madhatter49.  

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 390

Almost disappointed they didn’t do the iron on logo stuck over the original VA logo.

I guess it’s wouldn’t be too expensive to rip out 12 leather headrest x 6 737 airplanes and restitch with the new REx logo....

Aegean Airlines - Miles & Bonus

16 Jul 2019

Total posts 4

Suspect part of the business model of Rex is to offer Virgin comfort at Rex prices? So the association with the Virgin on board product may be reassuring for many first time Rex customers that they know what they're getting. Plus as others have also said, it keeps costs low for now just when they'll need is. Launching during a pandemic in a highly competitive market is risky enough without costly makeovers.  

767
767

01 Mar 2021

Total posts 6

And a wooden fork and paper cup for coffee...

paper coffee have never ever been recyclable unless you 1st strip out the plastic liner.

07 Nov 2020

Total posts 11

I think if they'd just gotten rid of that purple plastic screen and replaced it with a different colour then nobody would realise it was a Virgin plane.

Why ?

They could say  the same as virgin but cheaper (+ better than qantas but much cheaper)

Rex the national airline & flag carrier.


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