Regional Express is making a name for itself in Canberra, offering $99 flights to Sydney, and with Canberra-Melbourne launching on June 24 – going even lower, with fares from $69.
But Rex is more than just a 'cheap flight': until the end of June, every Regional Express passenger departing Canberra gets free access to a new, temporary Rex Lounge.
It's not an 'airport lounge' in the traditional sense – more so a user-pays cafe with an exclusive seating area, while Rex builds a true lounge of its own – but if you're flying from the national capital this month, here's what to expect.
Where is Rex's Canberra Airport lounge located?
You'll find the temporary Rex Lounge after security screening – take a left turn, and follow the signs.
Proceed along the concourse and take the escalator upstairs, opposite Gate 6: the same path you'd take for the Virgin Australia lounge.
The Rex Lounge is in an interesting spot, occupying what's normally the international departures area – so for now, you can safely ignore the Customs signs.
It's a huge space, but again, not a traditional 'lounge'.
There's no airline service desk for boarding pass requests, seat changes, or other assistance – for that, you'll need to trek back to check-in, before security – but the area is undeniably 'Rex', with model aircraft on display to help fill the expansive room.
The Rex Lounge opens its doors 90 minutes before its first departure, closes during the day when there's a six-hour gap in flight schedules, and currently reopens at 2pm ahead of the 3:30pm flight to Sydney.
That 2pm reopening is sharp: we arrived at 1:56pm to find the door locked, but then right at 2:00pm, the doors unlocked automatically and glided open.
Exploring the Rex Lounge in Canberra
Wander past the aircraft models and you'll find a quiet, spacious room with tables and a bar.
The choice pick of seats, are of course, over by the windows.
These include the pairs of chairs closest to the glass, or one of the many cosy booths.
Both provide sweeping views of the airfield, including of regional carriers that don't provide lounge facilities in Canberra.
Power points are scarce, however: we spotted just one, being at the edge of the booth in the dining area.
Rex doesn't operate its own WiFi hotspot here – instead, Canberra Airport's public WiFi network covers the space, but which would not connect during this visit:
Given most Australian travellers could easily use mobile data and hotspot laptops and tablets through their own connection, that's not a huge issue in itself: but when power points are also a rarity, doing so could see those gadgets depleted quite quickly.
Food and beverage in Canberra's Rex Lounge
This is another way that Rex's temporary Canberra lounge differs to what travellers might typically expect of a lounge: all food and beverage items served here come at a charge.
This makes it more of a cafe with an 'exclusive seating area' for Rex than a traditional lounge – but if you're happy to pay, you can peruse your choices at the counter:
Prices in general are quite high, with muffins close to $7, salads giving little change back from $10, and toasted sandwiches costing between $10.80 and $14.50, among your other choices.
On the alcohol front (served from 2:30pm), prices are similarly high – expect to pay $11-13 for beer and $12-$15 for a standard glass of wine, with larger pours priced at up to $21.
For the order below – a cheese and tomato toastie, standard glass of Chardonnay and a medium latte for the road – expect to pay $32.40.
After all, Rex has to pay for the space somehow, especially when every passenger on the airline can currently visit the lounge at no charge.
It'll be interesting to see how the experience changes when Rex moves into a brand new lounge in Canberra, particularly for its paying Rex Lounge members.
There's no word yet whether Priority Pass will be accepted at Canberra's new Rex Lounge once the door list is tightened – but if it is, we do hope that food and beverage becomes complimentary, as it is in Rex's Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide lounges.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Canberra as a guest of Regional Express.