Until early July, Regional Express is offering all passengers departing Canberra access to their temporary airport lounge. Not to mention Rex is currently offering $99 turboprop flights to Sydney and preparing to launch $69 jet services to Melbourne on June 24.
Rex has struck up a deal with Canberra Airport to take over the previous International departure lounge while the arrangement of Rex’s permanent lounge is determined. On a recent flight through Canberra, I had the opportunity to check out what Regional Express has called a lounge. So, here’s what you can expect.
Lounge details & location
The lounge is located after security on the main departures level, with access via escalators opposite gate six. The entrance can be found on the right-hand side of the precinct, opposite Virgin Australia’s business lounge.
I turned up at the lounge rather early after an inbound flight, finding the glass sliding doors firmly shut. There was no indication as to when the lounge would open, but at 2pm the doors magically opened. It appears the Rex lounge is available 90 minutes before the first Rex departure, closing during large gaps between flights.
The absence of a service desk meant no staff member was waiting to greet passengers and check access eligibility or assist with travel requests.
Rex’s Canberra lounge is miles apart from the rest of the Rex lounge network. Through the glass doors you’ll find a large open space, fitted out with Rex branding and striking geometric patterns throughout.
A bar acts as the main food and drinks area in the centre of the lounge. Tables and chairs surround the bar, with several barstools also offered.
Further into the lounge you’ll find a relaxed seating area with a choice of comfy booths and pairs of chairs surrounding tables.
This space takes the cake with an abundance of natural light thanks to angled floor to ceiling windows that run along the far end of the lounge. From here you’ll find impressive views of the apron and runway, as well as aircraft being serviced from the gates below.
Food & drink
Unlike what is typically expected from a lounge, all food and beverage are available for purchase. While Rex originally said travellers would be offered one complimentary non-alcoholic beverage, this was not the case during my visit.
As you’d expect from a cafe, there was a good range to choose from. That included muffins, banana bread, sandwiches and croissants. A respectable selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages is available for purchase, as well as barista coffee and hot drinks. The downside is prices are quite steep.
Toasted sandwiches will set you back between $10.80 and $14.50 while a lighter snack of banana bread costs $7.60. While that’s not the worst prices we have seen at an airport, it’s far from what should be offered at a propper lounge.
The cost of hot drinks is more reasonable at $5.60 for a regular coffee, and as far as alcohol (service starts at 2:30pm) Rex offers a “large” wine option starting at $19 and beers from $11.
As far as amenities go, there are clean and basic bathrooms as well as Rex magazines. Apart from that, there’s not much to report.
Power points are hard to find but we did spot a couple surrounding some of the booths.
Summing up: my take
Let’s face it, Rex’s current lounge network is nothing to boast about. Before the airline opened this lounge in Canberra, there were just three in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. Each is small and basic, designed for a small regional turboprop fleet.
The new lounge in Canberra is impressive by Rex standards. Overall it’s a spacious lounge, providing a comfortable space to work or relax before your flight. Despite the food and beverage downfalls, it’s still a great option for both business and leisure travellers, especially while entry is free.