Monday, August 5, 2013
Airline Review - REX (aka "Sweet or Savoury?")
When I was back in Adelaide last, I wanted to do quick trip up to Whyalla to visit my lovely friend Meg. Last time I visited, I drove up and it was around 5 hours each way, which isn't a problem, but when you're on a tight schedule and are trying to see as many people as possible, every hour counts. This time I decided to fly.
There's only one airline that flies to Whyalla and it's REX. They're a small regional airline, flying to country towns around Australia. I booked my ticket in advance on their website and it was still about $AUD240 return (for 2 x 30 minute flights). I guess they've got the market cornered, but I still thought the prices were a bit rude.
Anyway, they start boarding from the far end of Adelaide airport, but then you've got to walk down a few levels, along an outdoor walkway and onto a bus for the ride around to the plane which is standing off apron. Both of my planes were 33 seaters, so not that big, but not that small either. There's a flight attendant (FA) and the pilot greets you at the bottom of the plane stairs, before he climbs up and flies you to your destination (nice touch).
There's the standard flight security and safely briefing, but then I got the giggles (both times) when the FA announced that REX advises you do leg stretching exercises during flight, with instructions on said exercises to be found in your seat pocket. I'm no medical expert, but I think the chances of developing DVT on a 30 minute hop flight would be quite low ...
There's not much time between take off and landing, but the FA does push a tiny trolley along the aisle uttering the words "Sweet or savoury?" (those are the ONLY words, not "Hello, would you prefer sweet or savoury?") at each seat. You get to have a free biscuit or a little bag of chips to go with a little cup of water. Once the excitement of "Sweet or savoury?" is over, the FA comes back with a little plate of individually wrapped Mentos lollies, and you may take one. One. I'd forgotten how yummy they were and idly thought of palming another one, but I didn't want to cause a revolt. Anarchy!
The plane flies quite low and the view from the windows on both flights was great as we flew over the gulfs and the bush in between.
Whyalla airport is small, with no real security except one mammoth baggage handler and a few blokes that look like they're dozing (though they could transform into steely eyed killers when provoked, you just don't know - are you willing to risk it?). Your luggage gets offloaded and then taken on a trailer to the front of the airport and you hook it off the trailer yourself and walk away. There's no x-ray or security when you fly from there either, so the standard "remove belt, shoes, jewellery, sunglasses from head, laptops out, no liquids etc." thing doesn't really come into play - brilliant - just like flying used to be!
Landing in Adelaide is off apron again, and you end up in the old Adelaide International airport, in what looks like a dark old baggage shed. There's some portable toilets and that's it. You hook your bag off the belt, exit and find yourself on the footpath away from the airport proper. It's a few minutes walk back to the airport for a taxi or pick-up, but perfectly do-able (just unpleasant in the rain I guess).
All in all, REX is easy and does what it says on the tin (even more if you suddenly feel the urge to do leg stretches in that quiet 10 minutes between take off and descent). A bit pricy, but it saved me 10 hours driving and it was worth it.