Until recently, relatively few travellers knew about Regional Express, but with a growing network flights across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia, Rex is now making a name for itself.
That's particularly true with its planned jet routes between Sydney and Melbourne kicking off in March: but elsewhere across the Rex network, the airline still connects communities across Australia.
Regional Express fleet, seat maps
Regional Express (Rex) currently operates a fleet of Saab 340 turboprop aircraft, with Boeing 737s also joining the airline for those capital city flights.
Regional Express Saab 340
With Rex's fleet predictably geared towards regional flying, its Saab 340s provide seating for between 33 and 36 passengers, depending on which specific plane operates each flight.
Across the Saab 340A, Saab 340B and Saab 340B+WT families, seating always comes in a 1-2 layout on board. With a single aisle, this means each row contains a solo seat on one side, and a pair of seats on the other.
Of course, this also guarantees that two thirds of passengers have a window seat, half of all passengers have an aisle seat, and one third get both. Right now, there's no such thing as a middle seat on Regional Express.
Regional Express Boeing 737
Rex's new Boeing 737 jets will fly into action between Sydney and Melbourne from March 2021.
This aircraft, and the others Rex will be acquiring, were recently pulled from the Virgin Australia fleet, and will retain the same seats and layout as had been used by Virgin Australia.
This includes the business class cabin and Economy X seating zones, which Rex will sell as business class and 'Rextra Legroom', respectively.
Regional Express carry-on baggage allowance
All Regional Express passengers receive a complimentary cabin baggage allowance, except for infants who aren't occupying their own paid seat.
Depending on your fare and aircraft type, here's how much you can pack:
- Promo and Saver fares: 7kg
- Flex and Biz Saver fares (Boeing 737 flights): 10kg
- Biz & Biz Plus fares (Boeing 737 flights): 15kg total, and max. 10kg per item
- All regional (Saab) flights: 7kg
A passenger's total weight limit can be utilised in whichever way proves most convenient to the passenger, from the list below:
- One 'personal item' and one 'small bag'. A 'small bag' on Rex is one with dimensions of up to 105cm, not exceeding 23cm x 34cm x 48cm in size.
- Two 'small bags'.
- One briefcase and one non-rigid 'garment bag'. Garment bags are those with dimensions of up to 185cm, being no larger than 11cm thick, 60cm wide, and 114cm in length.
- One 'small bag' and one non-rigid 'garment bag'.
'Personal items' include a small camera, an umbrella, an overcoat, a reasonable amount of reading material, handbags, pocketbooks or small backpacks, provided these are "appropriate to normal travelling dress and is not being used as a container for the transportation of articles which would otherwise be regarded as baggage."
Of course, crutches and wheelchairs can also be brought aboard, and don't count towards the carry-on baggage allowance, and aren't considered a 'personal item'.
Rex also warns that passengers who are found with excess cabin baggage at the boarding gate will simply have their cabin baggage "offloaded" from the flight.
"Baggage will be treated as checked baggage and only be uplifted on the next available flight and it is the passenger’s responsibility to collect these bags from the airport when they arrive."
As well, passengers will be charged an excess baggage fee if this makes their total checked baggage – including offloaded cabin baggage – exceed their ticketed baggage allowance.
This represents a far stricter policy – and one less passenger-friendly – than used even by Jetstar, which sees passengers charged with extra fees at the boarding gate, but with their bag still able to travel with them on the same flight, even as checked baggage.
Regional Express checked baggage allowance
In addition to a cabin baggage allowance, Rex passengers receive a checked baggage allowance based on both their fare type and any onward itinerary. Here's how it works:
- All regional passengers, except Flex fares: 15kg
- Regional Flex: 23kg
- All Boeing 737 economy passengers: 23kg
- All Boeing 737 business class passengers: 32kg
Where connecting Rex flights are involved, across different fare categories or route types, the passenger is entitled to the higher of the two checked baggage allowances, provided both flights are on the same reservation.
For example, a Melbourne-based traveller flying up to Sydney in economy class on a Boeing 737 service, and connecting to a regional destination from Sydney – even on a regular economy fare – would still get 23kg of checked baggage.
However, on simple return-trip bookings, each flight is treated separately.
As an example, those who book a Rex Flex fare for their outbound regional flight can bring 23kg of checked baggage for that flight: but if they've booked a lower-tiered fare for the journey home, they'll only be able to bring 15kg on that return leg.
Domestic jet passengers who similarly book Rex business class in one direction and economy class in the other, will have a baggage allowance on each flight reflective of the fare type purchased for each flight.
Also read: Rex Boeing 737 business class explained
Baggage offload priority on Regional Express
Weight and size constraints can be an issue from time to time, which may require some baggage to be offloaded and carried on a later flight.
In most cases, Rex takes the following approach when deciding which bags to offload, when an aircraft would otherwise be overweight:
- "Domestic excess baggage" is first to be offloaded.
- Then, other domestic baggage may be offloaded.
- Passengers connecting to or from an international flight are unlikely to have their baggage offloaded, if regular domestic baggage can be offloaded instead.
- Only where still necessary, passengers who purchase "priority baggage" would then have their bags removed, although this service normally "guarantees uplift of baggage on the flight" the passenger travels on.
Purchasing Regional Express priority baggage
Travellers packing critical items that cannot travel with them in the cabin might consider purchasing "priority baggage" from Rex.
As above, this is designed to guarantee that the bag will travel with the passenger on the same flight, rather than being offloaded and arriving late.
Priority baggage isn't cheap, with Rex charging $5.50 per kg, based on the bag's weight at check-in. Under that rate, a 23kg bag would cost $126.50 to bring as a priority item – practically as much as another flight itself, on some routes.
Any passenger can purchase priority baggage until they have checked in, but they won't have the option once their bag has been accepted, or once they've been advised that their bag can't be carried on a particular flight.
In the rare event that a passenger who buys 'priority baggage' doesn't have their bag arrive on the same flight, they can apply to Rex for a refund of the priority fee.
Regional Express 'safe hand baggage'
Separate to both carry-on baggage and checked luggage, Rex offers a third suitcase service, known as 'safe hand baggage'.
Essentially, it allows Rex passengers to remain with their checked bag until the flight commences boarding, to wheel it to the flight themselves, and to collect it as soon as they exit the aircraft on arrival, rather than at the baggage belt.
It's a similar concept to 'Premium Hand Luggage' on QantasLink – where passengers hand over their bag prior to stepping on their aircraft, and get it back on the tarmac at the other end – except that Rex charges for this service.
A flat fee of $55 (incl. GST) applies per passenger per flight, which allows for 'safe hand baggage' of up to 15kg for most passengers, or 23kg for Rex Flex travellers.
This service may be useful for those who need to use their time at the airport to work with larger, bulky items that would normally travel as checked baggage.
However, as these bags are subject to any security screening at the departing airport, any restrictions that would normally apply to carry-on bags also apply to 'safe hand baggage' – no sharp items, for instance.
Regional Express routes
Rex operates a respectable network of flights across Australia, including both point-to-point services, and others that run more like a bus route with a series of stops from A to B, also known as a 'milk run'.
On those multi-stop routes, passengers can fly from beginning to end, or between any of the two destinations along the way.
Here's a map of the current Regional Express network, although note that routes marked in blue are operated by Pel-Air, not Regional Express:
While most routes are self-explanatory, Brisbane-based passengers generally first fly with Rex to Toowoomba's West Wellcamp Airport.
From there, they can continue either to St. George, Cunnamulla or Thargomindah via one of the 'milk run' routes, or continue to Charleville, Quilpie, Windorah, Birdsville, and so on.
Passengers simply search for flights as usual via the Rex website or their preferred travel agent.
Fancy flying from Brisbane to somewhere like Mount Isa? It's possible with Rex, but given the shape of the network, you'll endure seven stopovers along the way, with a travel time exceeding nine hours.
Given the alternative – flying from Brisbane to Cairns on another airline, and then continuing from Cairns to Mount Isa with Rex (with three or four pit stops, as takes even longer in total travel time), it's surprisingly the most efficient way to get from A to B – but do make sure your gadgets are fully charged, as it'll be a long day of flying!
The route map above doesn't reflect the airline's non-stop Sydney-Melbourne services beginning in March 2021, or other routes that Rex has hinted at but not yet opened for sale, such as Sydney-Brisbane.
Regional Express lounges
While the lounge networks of Qantas and Virgin Australia are more widely known, Regional Express also operates three domestic lounges in Australia. These are known simply as Rex Lounges.
Rex Lounge locations and reviews
Rex Lounges can be found at:
Regional Express is also in discussions with Brisbane Airport about opening a lounge there, to support its Boeing 737 flights to Sydney and Melbourne.
At the time of publishing, all three lounges above remained temporarily closed.
Rex Lounge access
There are a number of ways that passengers can access a Rex Lounge – here's how you can get through the door:
- Buy a business class ticket, which grants access on the day of your flight.
- Be a paid-up Rex Lounge member, with access available prior to a departing Regional Express flight, or on arrival from the same, with one complimentary guest.
- Purchase casual Rex Lounge access for a one-off visit at a cost of $33, between 9am and 2pm on weekdays, and all day on weekends. This can be purchased at the airport service desk closest to the lounge entry. Some economy class passengers can buy access at half the usual rate.
- Present a Priority Pass, Lounge Club or LoungeKey membership card, when travelling with any airline – including rivals such as Qantas and Virgin Australia. Any additional guest allowance is as per the traveller's membership plan.
- Be a Diners Club cardholder, with complimentary access granted on presentation (and swiping) of your Diners Club card. This benefit applies to Diners Club cards issued directly by Diners Club Australia, but not Linked Diners Club Cards issued in association with Citibank's own-brand credit cards.
As you'll see, Rex Lounge access doesn't follow a conventional set of airline rules, particularly as Rex doesn't currently offer a frequent flyer program: but when one is introduced in the future, lounge access could well be a benefit afforded to regular travellers.
Regional Express WiFi
Regional Express' existing fleet of Saab aircraft don't offer inflight Internet access.
However, as Virgin Australia had been fitting WiFi equipment across its Boeing 737 fleet prior to COVID-19, and Rex is taking on some of those same aircraft to begin flights on the 'golden triangle', Rex is planning to offer an inflight WiFi service on these jets.
Pricing for this is not yet known, including whether business class travellers will have complimentary or discounted access.