Today marks the first day of jet operations for regional airline Rex; the airline was created in 2002 after the merger of regional airlines Hazelton and Kendell, both subsidiaries of the now-defunct Ansett Australia.
It was an exciting experience to be a part of the inaugural service between Melbourne and Sydney today. The airline provided coffee from local brand St Ali one of the first pioneers who defined specialty coffee in Melbourne back in 2005. Also, breakfast boxes were offered to everyone before boarding consisting of scones and jam.
As with any new airline launch, there was plenty of fanfare with media and avgeeks participating in the first flight.
Rex announced new routes from Melbourne to the Gold Coast (29 March), Sydney to the Gold Coast (1 April), as well as Melbourne to Adelaide (31 March) with some great airfare offerings. Soon after the cutting of the ribbon, it was time to board ZL 18 the 7am departure for Sydney.
Everyone was presented with a certificate commemorating the first jet service and a corporate gift from the airline containing a book, water bottle, hat, pen, and inflight magazine.
Shortly after takeoff, the cabin crew provided Mimosas, Orange Juice and Champagne to celebrate the occasion.
A short time later, the inflight service commenced offering a choice of beverages (tea, coffee or water), a cupcake to celebrate, as well as a sweet snack from the Byron Bay Cookie Company. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase after 11 am.
The short hop between Melbourne and Sydney was just one hour, and before long, it was time for landing. After spending the day in Sydney sightseeing, it was time to return to the airport to fly home.
The experience with Rex begins with access to their lounge at Sydney airport, which is located near Gate G2. I was the only one in the lounge for a short time and managed to take some pictures before others came in. The lounge was opened on 27 April 2005 by MP John Anderson.
Due to COVID-19 lounge staff serve all food and drink offerings, no self-service at all. On offer: Nespresso Coffee, a range of Coca Cola branded soft drinks, juices, water as well as pre-packaged snacks (chips, nuts, cakes) and yoghurts. Fresh food options include sandwiches and wraps.
The space was more than adequate for a short stay, offering work stations and some lounge areas. I’ve been in much worse lounges around the world and have no complaints about this space. Rex offers casual visits to all passengers at the cost of AUD$33.00 per person; there’s more information right here.
Once onboard, I was offered a choice of juice or water as a welcome drink.
Shortly after, Rahul (the cabin manager) asked me whether I will be joining them for dinner this evening. He was very professional and offered me a choice of a hot meal (beef) or a lighter cheese platter option. He wrote down my order and proceeded to take the rest of the orders in the cabin. The airlines’ business-class cabin has eight seats, and there were six of us booked on this flight.
Inflight beverages offered included Red/White Wine (Mainly South Australian) and beers from Furphy (Victorian brand) and Hahn Light Beer (New South Wales).
Ten minutes after takeoff, I was offered some champagne and a small snack before the main meal service. Approximately ten minutes later, my meal order was delivered.
The Rex business class meal concept is served on single-use cardboard trays. The hot meal packaging is manufactured from sustainably managed forests, wooden cutlery is provided, and the bread and dessert are served in cardboard boxes. It’s an interesting concept, as the airline doesn’t have to purchase crockery and cutlery that require washing up, and these items would be lighter than traditional inflight crockery. I just hope it’s all recycled.
The main meal of beef with polenta, broccoli and peas were quite good. The beef was tasty, the polenta not so much. The star of the tray was the handmade dessert; it was a lime, yoghurt and coconut cake, that’s gluten-free and handmade in Sydney. I’m not a big fan of airline bread; however, the bread roll was fluffy and delicious.
Overall I think the concept is unique; it feels more premium economy rather than business class. However, you must remember that the airline is offering a value business class proposition. I paid only AUD$199.00 one way for this airfare and their competitors are charging at least double this. Similarly timed flights in other parts of the world would not provide a hot meal on such a short flight sector. The service was fantastic, the crew were professional, and I thoughtfully enjoyed the experience.
I wish Rex all the best with their new domestic jet services and look forward to flying with them again in the future.