Duncan Gillies flies aboard Shanghai Airlines FM9449 from Shanghai to Lijiang.
The plane: Boeing 737.
Price: 1360 yuan ($270).
On time? We were on the plane on time, but had to wait 30 minutes before the plane made its way to the runway. The flight took just over four hours.
My seat: A comfortable but not particularly generous aisle seat in a row of three close to the front.
Fellow passengers: All Chinese except for the group of five with whom I was travelling.
How full? Not a seat to spare. Yunnan is becoming a popular destination for domestic tourists. We were travelling during a holiday period and it seemed everybody was on vacation.
Entertainment: Minimal. There were English-language and Chinese-language local newspapers. Small screens placed high up at intervals through the plane played what appeared to be a period drama in Mandarin. Across the aisle, a Chinese passenger felt comfortable enough with a couple of my companions to lean up against them and watch the English-language movie they were watching on a laptop.
The service: Friendly, but the staff didn't have a good grasp of English.
Food and drink: Very interesting. Tasty steamed buns and Chinese dishes with rice. The language barrier meant I was served orange juice when I asked for water but that's no big deal. On the return flight, which included a stop-off in Kunming, we were given a small packet of cream-filled biscuits on the first leg and a light meal on the second. I thought that should maybe have been the other way around.
Toilets: Clean and tidy.
Luggage: No problems with the overhead lockers or picking up checked bags on arrival.
The airport experience: Highlighted the difference between big-city and small-town China. We left from Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport, which is the main domestic airport serving Shanghai and handled 31,298,812 passengers in 2010. Sanyi in Lijiang, on the other hand, is smaller, much quieter and, built in 1995, isn't exactly an example of modern Chinese architecture. It is surrounded by mountains so gives an idea of what to expect once out the front door. Kunming serves Yunnan's capital city and resembles the airport of the future. Opened in June 2012, it is expected to handle 38 million passengers a year by 2020.
Would I fly this again? Definitely. The language barrier was the only inconvenience but it wasn't a major problem.