Executive Traveller exclusive
- Rex Points earned on a straight points-per-dollar basis
- Four Rex Flyer status tiers: Opal, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond
- All unsold seats made available at ‘classic award’ rates
Two and a half years after Regional Express muscled into the intercity jet market dominated by Qantas and Virgin Australia, the challenger now wants to shake up the loyalty landscape with the launch of its new Rex Flyer program.
Due to go live today, Monday October 2, the Rex frequent flyer scheme will let passengers on the carrier’s Rex’s intercity Boeing 737 jet network and backbone of regional routes flown by Saab turboprops earn ‘Rex Points’ which can be used to snare free flights and upgrades to business class.
A unique component of the Rex Flyer program will see all unsold seats on every flight made available at the lowest points rate from 48 hours before departure.
Rex has adopted a ‘revenue-based’ earning model where travellers earn between three and seven Rex Points for every dollar spent on their airfare or extra such as seat selection.
They’ll also earn Status Points at the rate of one Status Point per dollar to ascend through four membership tiers – christened Opal, Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond – each with its own set of benefits.
Standout perks of status include free business class upgrades and extra legroom economy seating, plus moving to an earlier flight without a fee, along with the usual benefits such as lounge access, priority check-in and boarding, and boosted baggage allowances.
Rex will also allow ‘family pooling’ of points into a single flyer’s account, and permit the points of a deceased family member to be transferred to their next of kin.
“The program with its superior benefits means we can at last reward our passengers for the loyalty they have shown us over many years,” says Rex Deputy Chairman John Sharp.
Rex is also planning “new airport lounges planned for Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with construction commencing imminently,” while a Rex app for Apple and Android phones is warming up on the runway.
Introducing Rex Flyer
The Rex Flyer program has two ‘currencies’, if you will: Rex Points and Status Points.
Rex Points can be used for rewards such as free reward flights and business class upgrades, while Status Points drive your Rex Flyer status tier.
Both are determined by the cost of your airfare – what the boffins call a ‘revenue-based’ model, which is becoming increasingly popular with airlines compared to issuing points against a baseline of how many miles you’ve flown.
The upside of this points-per-dollar model is not only that it’s incredibly easy to understand and calculate your points, but that it rewards your spending – the more you pay, the more you earn.
And as all frequent flyer programs should be these days, Rex Flyer is ‘family friendly’.
Family Pooling lets you combine all the Rex Points and Status Points earned by up to six family members living at the same address into the Rex Flyer account of a single ‘family lead’ – a great way to pile up the points and fast-track your way to status.
Rex Flyer Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond members can also put their membership on ‘parental leave pause’ to save their status until they’re back in the air.
Finally, in the event of the death of a family member, their Rex Points and Status Points will be transferrable to another family member.
The Rex Flyer roadmap
The Rex Flyer program is being rolled out in three stages.
- from today, Monday October 2, travellers can sign up to Rex Flyer and begin earning points (both Rex Points and Status Points) from their next Rex flight
- from mid-November you’ll be able to use those Rex Points to book flights
- in February 2024 Rex will unlock points-based business class upgrades, as well as activating its three ‘elite tiers’ of Sapphire, Emerald and Diamond
And there’s more to come.
The airline intends to revamp its paused Rex Business Flyer to more closely align with Rex Flyer and compete against Qantas Business Rewards and Virgin Australia Business Flyer.
Also on the to-do list for 2024 is a linkup to the SkyMiles platform of US partner Delta Air Lines.
Rex and Delta already share connecting flights, ticketing and baggage services on each other’s network, but Rex Flyer plans to extend this with reciprocal ‘earn and burn’ plus status perks between Rex Flyer and Delta SkyMiles Medallion tiers.
How to join Rex Flyer
The Rex Flyer program is free to join – just click through to the Rex Flyer website and sign up.
To get you started, all Rex Flyer members who join before January 3 2024 will receive 5,000 Rex Points.
And as a special launch promotion, newly-minted Rex Flyer members will also earn double Rex Points on all bookings made before January 3 2024, without any restriction on the actual travel date (so if you want to book a flight in August 2024, go for it).
Note that Rex won’t be issuing physical membership cards: instead, your status will be displayed on a digital card in the coming-soon Rex smartphone app, due to hit the Apple and Android app stores in early 2024.
Earning Rex Points and Status Points
At the moment, the only way to earn Rex Points and Status Points is by flying with Rex.
Executive Traveller can confirm Rex is looking at retail partners for ‘on the ground’ earning – starting with petrol and groceries – to join Rex Flyer in early 2024, although there are no banks or credit cards in play given the membership base is starting from near-zero.
As mentioned earlier, as Rex Flyer is a spend-based program the cost of your airfare and selected extras is what drives your points haul.
So how many Rex Points will you earn in the air?
- economy Resident and Community fares and most economy Promo fares earn three Rex Points per dollar
- economy Saver and business Saver fares plus the highest-grade economy Promo fare earn five Rex Points per dollar
- economy Flex, business class Biz and Biz Plus fares earn seven Rex Points per dollar
- fees for seat selection and additional baggage also earn five Rex Points per dollar
That points-per-dollar spend covers the total fare including airport taxes, other charges and GST, but not any payment method surcharge or booking/handling fee.
Meanwhile, Status Points are earned at a flat rate of one Status Point per dollar spent on your Rex airfare.
And that’s as complicated as it gets: on a $179 economy Saver fare between Sydney and Melbourne you’ll earn 895 Rex Points and 179 Status points.
Make the same trip on a $349 business Saver fare and your haul is 1,745 Rex Points and 349 Status Points.
However, one benefit of Rex Flyer status is a points bonus of between 25% and 75% on economy Saver, economy Flex and all business class fares.
So a Rex Flyer Sapphire member doing that Sydney-Melbourne trip in economy would end up with 1,118 Rex Points, while a Diamond member in the next row would step off the plane with 1,566 Rex Points (their Status Points tallies would remain the same, however).
The same earn rates apply to Rex’s backbone of regional flights, except off course that the Saabs don’t have a business class cabin.
Rex Points have a generous three-year expiry period, compared to the 18 months of Qantas and Virgin Australia, and of course any activity will reset the clock and keep your all points alive on a rolling basis for the next 36 months.
Rex Flyer Flight Rewards
It’s one thing to build up a mountain of points, but using them to snare a free flight is something else – indeed, it’s triggered plenty of frustration among frequent flyers.
Here’s how Rex intends to handle that, and it has an interesting approach to filling seats that remain unsold.
To set the scene: once Rex unleashes its Flight Rewards package in mid-November, watch for three types of rewards available to book with Rex Points in both economy and business class:
- Anytime Rewards will sell for the highest rates, but guarantee a ‘last seat available’ booking and have the most flexibility to change or cancel your booking
- Getaway Rewards require fewer points but carry a $33 fee to change or cancel your booking within 14 days of departure in economy, and seven days in business
- Ultimate Rewards will go for the lowest number of Rex Points, but that $33 fee applies to changes and cancellations made any time after you book
As a quick example, take Rex’s Melbourne-Brisbane route:
- an Anytime Reward in economy is set at 33,400 Rex Points, with a Getaway Reward at 11,600 Rex Points and an Ultimate Reward at 8,900 Rex Points
- in business class an Anytime Reward costs 34,900 Rex Points, a Getaway Reward is 25,900 Rex Points and an Ultimate Reward is 19,900 Rex Points
You can click here to see the full list of Rex Flyer Flight Rewards for intercity and regional routes.
(And if you’re thinking the naming is a bit confusing – that Ultimate sounds like the most flexible fare while Getaway has more of a last-minute vibe – well, yes, we’d agree with you.)
As an aside, these Flight Rewards are calculated as discounts against published fares in each booking class and then converted into points.
Anytime Rewards are equivalent to 50% off the top-priced Flex fare, with Getaway Rewards at 35% of the cheapest Saver fare and Ultimate Rewards at 50% of a Saver fare. This means Flight Reward point amounts can change as published fares change.
Now here’s the twist: it’s what Rex calls Last Minute Flight Rewards.
Within two days of every intercity and regional Rex flight taking off, empty seats will be made available at that rock-bottom Ultimate Rewards rate.
- 48 hours before the flight departs, all but five unsold economy seats will be put online as Ultimate Reward seats (those five seats are held back in case Rex really needs them)
- 24 hours before the flight departs, all but two unsold business class seats will be converted into Ultimate Reward seats
- at 12.01am on the day the flight departs, every seat that’s still not been sold – even the ones Rex held onto – will be up for grabs at that low Ultimate Reward rate.
Under the Last Minute Flight Rewards initiative, every empty economy class seat on a Sydney-Melbourne, Sydney-Brisbane or Melbourne-Adelaide is released at 7,400 Rex Points in the lead-up to those flights.
It’s not something you want to plan your business trip or family holiday around, but if you can travel on short notice or sheer spontaneity is your thing, Last Minute Flight Rewards are (quite literally) just the ticket.
Rex Flyer business class upgrades
Fancy moving up to business class? How many Rex Points you’ll pay will depend on the type of economy fare you purchased.
Upgrading from the cheapest economy Promo fares will demand more Rex Points than from a mid-priced economy Saver fare, with the least number of Rex Points needed against the most expensive Economy Flex fare.
A full Point Upgrade Reward table is published on the Rex Flyer website, but as a starter:
- a business class upgrade from an economy Promo fare on most 737 routes such as Sydney-Melbourne, Sydney-Brisbane and Melbourne-Adelaide will cost 13,000 Rex Points
- a business class upgrade from an economy Saver fare on the same 737 routes requires 8,700 Rex Points
- a business class upgrade from an economy Flex fare on those 737 routes requires 4,300 Rex Points
For the likes of Sydney-Adelaide and Melbourne-Brisbane, business class upgrades range from 14,900 Rex Points down to 4,900 Rex Points.
However, as Rex calculates its upgrade rates as a percentage of the Business Ultimate Reward rates – which in turn are set at 50% of the published business Saver fare – these flight reward amounts can change from time to time, in line with published fare changes.
And as detailed below, Rex Flyer Emeralds can claim two complimentary business class upgrades each membership year while Diamonds get three free bumps into business.
Rex Flyer status tiers
Moving up the Rex Flyer status ladder comes as you earn Status Points on Rex flights: these are fixed at a rate of one Status Point per dollar spent on Rex airfares.
Fly from Sydney to Melbourne or Brisbane to Roma on a $250 ticket and you’ll earn 250 Status Points. It doesn’t get more straightforward than that.
However, Rex also allows its status tiers to be earned by taking a set number of flights, which favours shorter regional hops and travellers on the lowest airfares.
(These are officially called ‘status flights’ and almost all Rex flights are eligible, with obvious exceptions such as points-based reward bookings).
Regardless of how you qualify for a tier, you’ll hold that status and enjoy its benefits for a full 12 months from the day you were upgraded to that tier.
Rex Flyer Opal
Rex Flyer Opalis the first rung on the status ladder, where all new members begin. As with Qantas Bronze and Velocity Red, there are no real benefits – Opal is just a stepping stone to higher tiers.
Rex Flyer Sapphire is the first ‘elite’ tier with benefits, and is yours when you earn 1,500 Status Points or take 12 Rex flights (retaining Sapphire status in subsequent years calls for 1,100 Status Points or 10 flights).
The key benefits of Rex Flyer Sapphire are
- 25% bonus Rex Points on economy Saver, economy Flex and all business class fares
- complimentary standard seating (usually $6 extra)
- access to priority seating zones
Rex says Sapphire is designed to slide in below Qantas Silver and Velocity Silver as an easily-attainable tier with a handful of perks as people begin flying with Rex (or at least in the early stages of their Rex Flyer membership).
Rex Flyer Emerald is where the real frequent flyer perks begin to pile up.
To reach Emerald status requires 3,000 Status Points or 24 flights; retaining Emerald takes 2,200 Status Points or 22 flights.
On top of what you already get as a Sapphire member, the key benefits of Rex Flyer Emerald are
- two complimentary business class upgrades per year (from an economy Saver or Flex fare)
- complimentary ‘Get Me Home’ – moving to an earlier flight on the same day – on a economy Saver fare (usually a $33 charge)
- complimentary ‘front’ seating (usually $10 extra)
- complimentary Extra Legroom seating during online checkin (usually $15 extra)
- 50% bonus Rex Points on economy Saver, economy Flex and all business class fares
- higher checked baggage allowance on Boeing 737 services: 32kg in economy (usually 23kg) and 42kg in business (usually 32kg) with priority baggage handling
- priority checkin and boarding
Rex considers the Emerald tier as its equivalent to Qantas Silver and Velocity Silver, although they’re not like-for-like.
For example, Rex Flyer Emerald doesn’t include the complimentary lounge passes of Qantas Silver – but then you don’t get free business class upgrades or fly-ahead with Qantas Silver or Velocity Silver.
Rex Flyer Diamond sits at the top of the Rex loyalty ladder, but is more of a matcher against Qantas and Velocity Gold rather than Platinum.
None the less, Rex is channeling Marilyn Monroe to proclaim that Diamond is a frequent flyer’s best friend.
6,000 Status Points or 48 Rex flights delivers Diamond status, and 4,400 Status Points or 44 flights locks it in for the following 12 months.
Rex Flyer Diamond adds extra shine to the perks of Emerald, including
- access to Rex lounges (currently at Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, with Brisbane on the horizon)
- (equivalent to the $329 annual lounge membership package)
- three complimentary business class upgrades per year (from an economy Saver or Flex fare)
- complimentary ‘Get Me Home’ on any economy fare
- complimentary Extra Legroom seating
- no service fees when using the Rex call centre to make or change a flight reward booking or request a points upgrade.
- 75% bonus Rex Points on economy Saver, economy Flex and all business class fares
- higher checked baggage allowance on Boeing 737 services: 42kg in economy (usually 23kg) and 64kg in business (usually 32kg) with priority baggage handling
- 15kg of carry-on baggage in Boeing 737 economy or business class (usually 7kg in economy and 10-15kg in business, depending on the fare type)
It’s clear that Rex has put plenty of thought into shaping a frequent flyers program which is very much its own beast rather than aping its rivals.
For example, while frequent flyers will flock to Diamond status, casual flyers will still find the Emerald tier pleases with those business class upgrades and fly-ahead options.
That said, these are early days for Rex Flyer and there’s still plenty of time and scope for Rex to add more tier benefits down the track, such as lounge passes for Emeralds and free inflight WiFi for Diamonds.
And before you ask: yes, Rex is looking to launch a status match against Qantas and Virgin Australia sometime after the Rex Flyer status tiers go live in early 2024.
We’re expecting to see Qantas and Velocity Silvers matched to Rex Flyer Emerald, while Qantas and Velocity Golds and Platinums would qualify for Rex Flyer Diamond.