While Qantas and Virgin Australia certainly dominate the domestic travel market, many jetsetters don't realise that other airlines have domestic lounges too – case in point, Regional Express, or REX, which has an unassuming lounge of its own at Sydney Airport, and others in Melbourne and Adelaide.
Simply branded the REX Lounge and tucked away in Sydney's Terminal 2, it's a quiet haven in which the airline's passengers can work, grab a coffee and a bite to eat before their flight, or simply put their feet up and watch TV in more comfortable surroundings than sitting at the departure gate.
Location & Impressions
After clearing security in Sydney's Terminal 2, make a right turn and follow the REX Lounge signs until you reach Gate G2: Given the relatively low volume of passengers who use the space, the lounge is often quiet – and on this visit, practically empty: Plenty of light flows in thanks to tarmac views on the right... ... and also windows to the left which line the general passenger concourse, but are somewhat see-through: You'll also spot airline-themed artwork in one corner... ... and a variety of merchandise at the other, which oddly isn't for sale from the lounge and needs to be ordered online.
Without a business class service or shiny frequent flyer tiers, the Rex Lounge purely serves paying guests.
Annual membership sells for $329 and allows the member to stop by its lounges in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne prior to any Rex flight.
These travellers can bring up one complimentary guest into the lounge, and a second guest at a cost of $22.
All other Rex passengers can purchase one-off access for $33 between 9am and 2pm on weekdays and whenever the lounge is open on weekends: a great option if you fly less frequently.
As of April 2018, members of the Priority Pass airport lounge scheme can also access this lounge when travelling with any airline from Sydney – whether that's Regional Express, others such as Virgin Australia and Jetstar from Terminal 2, or even Qantas and QantasLink from Terminal 3, if the traveller is willing to clear security twice.
While we wouldn't expect much from a lounge that costs but $300 a year to access, there were a respectable number of breakfast options available including cereals, fresh fruit, toast and yoghurts... ... joined by an easy-to-use Nespresso machine with eight different coffee types... ... coming together to produce a decent latte: Tea drinkers aren't forgotten... ... and nor is the wine crowd, with alcohol available free from 3pm daily: Easy snacks like chips and chocolates are too on offer... ... but which reside near a somewhat confronting sign written in all capital letters, practically exclaiming "DON'T TAKE OUR TASTY TREATS!!! THAT'S RIGHT, YOU, IN THE BLUE SHIRT..." – and true to its word, sits directly below a security camera.
That's a bit 'direct' when something like "We happily provide complimentary food and beverages for consumption while visiting the lounge. Please help us keep lounge membership costs low by not taking these with you" would be much more polite, and in theory, work just as well.
Forgot to pack your laptop? A number of functional but somewhat outdated Windows XP workstations stand at the ready... ... while WiFi is available for the better-prepared. Our tests showed speeds of 6.54Mbps down, 1.58Mbps up and ping speeds of 22ms, which is more than ample for a solo user but would grow cumbersome during busier periods.
Awkwardly, there's nowhere particularly great to set up your laptop – a bench at the far end would suit but is mostly blocked by the lampshade, which takes up the one available power point... ... and is also directly next to the TV, which won't help your concentration. There's one other bench with stools and an available power point further away, but which is completely taken up by reading material and provides nowhere to actually put your laptop and other belongings without disturbing the neatly-stacked magazines. In this instance, you can either shift a keyboard forward at a computer terminal and plonk your laptop there, or simply pop it on your lap.
On the upside, only one announcement was made during our entire visit which certainly helped our productivity, compared to the plethora of boarding commentary that comes as standard in the major airline lounges.
Most chairs in the lounge are well-suited to kicking back with a beer or glass of wine, with singles and duos filling the space... ... and larger sofas for groups, networking and mingling: Along with the magazines you'll have spotted earlier, there's a larger reading nook over by the food... ... and two massage chairs, with the one on the right providing a reasonable back, neck and shoulder massage, but for the legs did nothing more than squeeze and release them... ... to the point that it was more comfortable to remove them from the chair's grip than leave them in.
All up, it's a respectable lounge at a reasonable price – and certainly miles better than sitting out in the terminal – but not one I'd look to spend hours in before every flight.
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of Regional Express
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