Review: Rex Boeing 737 economy class (Sydney-Gold Coast)

With sharp fares from just $55 – including checked baggage plus a drink and snack – Rex brings competition to the east coast.

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, May 11 2021
Rex Boeing 737 economy class (Sydney-Gold Coast)
Route

Sydney to Gold Coast

Aircraft Type

Boeing 737-800

Airline

Regional Express

Flight

ZL540

Cabin Class

Economy

Seat

20C (aisle)

Notes
The Good
  • All fares include checked baggage, a snack and a drink
The Bad
  • Given the low base price, seat selection costs $6-10 extra on some fares
X-Factor
  • Rock-bottom fares mean lower prices across for everyone
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

With four airlines vying for passengers between Sydney and the Gold Coast, Regional Express (Rex) is the newest entrant onto the popular east coast route.

Tempting travellers with rock-bottom airfares and an inflight experience resembling its closest competitors, here's what the standard economy experience entails aboard Rex's Boeing 737-800 jets.

Check-in

  • Checked baggage allowance: 23kg
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 7kg on Promo and Saver fares, or 10kg on Flex tickets.
  • Online check-in: Available between 48 hours and 60 minutes prior to scheduled departure.
  • Airport check-in: Rex offers both kiosk and counter check-in at Sydney Airport's Terminal 2 until 30 minutes prior to departure. Passengers who've used online check-in and have only cabin baggage can proceed straight to the gate.
  • Boarding passes: Print your own after online check-in, save it to Apple Wallet on iPhone, or grab yours from a kiosk or check-in desk at the airport. Mobile boarding passes for Android phones aren't supported as standard by Rex, but can be saved and used after installing the WalletPasses app from Google Play.

Lounge

Regional Express offers a Rex Lounge at Sydney Airport, and there are plenty of ways for economy class passengers to visit.

If you're a paid-up Rex Lounge member, access is complimentary when flying Rex, along with a +1. When travelling with a second guest, a $22 fee applies to that second guest only.

Members of Priority Pass, as well as Diners Club cardholders, can also visit in line with the entitlements of their personal membership or account. This access is available regardless of the passenger's airline.

Those flying Rex who don't have one of these cards (and aren't booked in Rex business class) may also be able to pay for entry, with those on a Flex fare eligible to buy access at reception for just $16.50, with the rate being $33 for those on Saver tickets.

Taking the Priority Pass route with a quick card swipe at the nearby service desk, the lounge was calm and quiet during a late morning weekday visit, with a selection of snacks, drinks, and Nespresso coffee available by request at a counter located within the lounge.

Options approaching lunchtime included cheese and crackers, wraps and sandwiches, snacks such as packaged chips and biscuits, yoghurts, and other light bites.

A staff member on duty offered to assemble a snack and wrap plate, and prepare the Nespresso coffee.

Regular Nespresso drinkers may find their favourite blend among the 10 options provided – but given how frothy the milk came out after ordering a latte, we'd suggest ordering a simple espresso or one with just a splash of milk, to keep the coffee flavourful.

Beer and wine are also complimentary from 3pm each day, and if you're looking for the lounge itself, you'll find it by turning right after security, near gate G2 – nestled near the centre of Terminal 2, along the stretch between the 'Virgin' and 'Jetstar, Rex and others' piers.

Review: Rex Lounge, Sydney Airport Terminal 2

Flight

Rex offers two return flights per day between Sydney and Queensland's Gold Coast.

Departing Sydney, passengers can choose between a morning departure (ZL520, departing 8:30am) and a midday service (ZL540, at 12:30pm), each being 1hr 20mins.

From the Gold Coast, Sydney-bound flights leave at 10:30am (ZL533) and 3pm (ZL551), for a journey time of 1.5 hours.

Rex also flies from the Gold Coast to Melbourne twice a day, with all these flights operated by the airline's Boeing 737-800s, equipped with business class, Rextra Legroom, and standard economy.

ET review: Rex Boeing 737 business class (Gold Coast-Melbourne)

Seat

Economy class aboard Rex's Boeing 737s will be familiar to many Australian travellers, as Rex's jets come from Virgin Australia's surplus fleet, and retain the same seats.

This gives the cabin a 3-3 configuration, in which five rows offer extra space (branded 'Rextra Legroom'), and the remainder – as reviewed here – provide a standard seat pitch of 31 inches (78cm).

When upright, taller travellers shouldn't find their knees pressed into the seat in front, with this six-foot editor having a small gap between those knees and the seatback pocket.

Space is sure to feel more closed-in should the passenger in front recline, as these seats can nudge back by four inches (just over 10cm).

In any case, these standard rows offer a meshed storage pouch that's great for a water bottle, a larger pocket behind suitable for tablets and the like, and offer a sturdy fold-down tray table.

Understandably mirroring what you'd find in Virgin Australia's Boeing 737 economy class, each seat is 17 inches (43cm) wide: perfectly fine for a quick 80-minute dash like this one.

As previously reviewed, you can also 'upgrade' your space on board to one of the Rextra Legroom rows for just $15 per passenger per flight, if you'd like some extra wiggle room.

ET review: Rex Boeing 737 'Rextra Legroom' (Melbourne-Sydney)

Be aware that on the lowest-cost Promo fares, a $6 fee applies to select a seat prior to check-in – or $10 for a seat towards the front, as is also payable on Saver fares.

Meal

On its domestic jet flights, Rex offers all economy passengers a free snack, along with coffee, tea and water.

This departure saw a tasty "people's mix" of pretzels, choc sultanas and soya crisps – and after an early lunch in the Rex Lounge, we'd not have wanted anything more.

If you'd fancy something else though, soft drinks are $4, light beer is $6, and other beers and wines are $7: but you'll need cold hard cash for these, as Rex doesn't accept any card payments on board.

It'd be great to see Rex move into the modern age and provide credit card facilities inflight – something its nearest rivals Virgin Australia and Jetstar already offer – which could also incentivise more passengers to purchase, as many people in 2021 no longer carry or use cash.

Entertainment & Service

Interactions with cabin crew are always brief on short flights like this – and in those quick moments, staff were polite, and didn't delay in commencing the snack service after take-off.

However, staff could certainly improve their enforcement of mask requirements.

On this flight, a passenger in the same row kept their mask dangling from one ear only (thus not covering their nose or mouth for the entire flight), which went completely unchallenged by the crew.

In terms of inflight entertainment, you'll also need to bring your own as you won't find video streaming or seatback screens here. Alternatively, Rex's magazine can be found in the seat pocket.

The verdict

With fares currently starting at $55 one-way between Sydney and the Gold Coast, Rex is certainly bringing competition and value to route.

Of course, Rex doesn't have a frequent flyer program for individuals – or inflight entertainment – and unlike its rivals, also lacks lounge facilities at Gold Coast Airport, despite offering these elsewhere, including in Sydney.

These differences could make Qantas or Virgin Australia a more compelling choice for some business travellers, but for those with an eye on the bottom line who don't need all the frills, Rex is definitely worth a try.

Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of Regional Express.

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.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2019

Total posts 26

You really want REX to be a sucess to keep Qantas on their game with service and more particularly prices. I'm flying them soon and wish them well. History is not however, on their side, with Qantas proving to be a fierce competitor.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 124

Bouquets for an actual magazine and a fair price for extra legroom. Brickbat for cash - who carries this anymore? Respect for taking on the Qantas juggernaut and VA.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 362

How did the loads look onboard?

This particular flight was at least two thirds full - just about every aisle and window seat occupied, and many middle seats taken as well.

11 May 2021

Total posts 1

Bonne chance à eux 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jul 2017

Total posts 24

Today I took my first flight with Rex Cb Sydney and return. Flight departed promptly on time and the return flight likewise. Though there is a bus trip to the terminal in Sydney one embarks at the rear of the baggage claim area so exiting the terminal is very easy. The Canberra lounge is the old International Lounge, spacious with few trimmings. The very pleasant quite ambience much appreciate contrary to the Q Club & Q Business lounge overtaken with government employees all of whom are acting "Prime ministers'

I did the gold coast - Syd leg a week ago ($55 one way, late morning weekend departure) and found a flight that was close to full. Service etc as Chris has described. I only booked the return flight 3-hours before i travelled and was on the 12:30 Thursday departure. Fare was $100 which for a flight booked 3 hours before departure I thought was excellent. About to book again for 3 weeks and take advantage of the $55 fare. As someone said above, hope they succeed in taking on the main players. 


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