Review of China Eastern flight Kunming Jinghong in Economy

Airline China Eastern
Flight MU5827
Class Economy
Seat 21A
Aircraft Boeing 737-700
Flight time 00:55
Take-off 29 Dec 10, 19:10
Arrival at 29 Dec 10, 20:05
MU   #66 out of 116 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 164 reviews
marathon
By GOLD 2692
Published on 2nd May 2014
This was one of my first FR, an archive report on a pre-FR era flight, and originally posted in French here. I expanded it slightly and added a tourist bonus at the end.

Have you ever heard of the Xishuangbanna Autonomous Dai Prefecture Airport ? Or Banna, for short on Kunming's flight departures displays, or Xishuangbanna, as they call it on the P.A.? Or even Jinghong, the city that it serves and gave its JHG IATA code ? Probably not.

photo P1080466a

I had arrived from PEK on that MU 767-300.

photo P1080460a

I had chosen an ample connection time, because it would be my problem if the plane from PEK was late (it was not). Even though I was going to fly on two consecutive MU domestic flights, there was no way I could buy a single ticket, or check in my luggage all the way to JHG at PEK : I had to fly to KMG, recover my luggage and check in again. I wondered what this connection counter was for.

photo P1080463a

Night has fallen on the old Kunming Wajiaba airport, which was equally uncomfortable landside AND airside. There was a good reason for the lack of investment for the comfort of passengers: that airport which had been caught up by Kunming's urban sprawl was to be closed one year later, when a new airport opened away from the city.

This was the real China, with the inimitable warm tips which are actually very different in the original Chinese: it actually means A small step forward, a huge progress for civilization. No less!

photo P1080462a

We board this 737 which still has the decoration of the Shanghai World Expo which had closed on 31st of October.

photo 5560589433_2d6c2c303e_b

next to this MU CRJ200

photo 5561166738_819668215f_b

It was a very short flight: only 40 minutes. The pilots have better not miss the runway, because 50 km further away, its (depending on the direction) Burma, a.k.a. Myanmar, or Lao. A different heading is no better, because it would take only half an hour to be in Vietnam. The Golden Triangle (the Burma-Thailand-Lao joint border point) is next door; this once was one the hottest heroin making and trading spots on earth.

With so little time, and for so cheap (around250 RMB), you cannot expect a full meal: only a 30cl bottle of water.

Anyway, we landed in Xishuangbanna on time:

photo 5561166090_33495124af_b

and even before the terminal, we knew that this is not quite the usual China. The text on top is not a Chinese language, it is Dai, a language related to Burmese. You really feel that Burma is very close.

photo P1080478a

This airport is actually one the southernmost airport in Mainland China, Hainan Island excluded.

photo P1080476a

There was no shuttle bus outside the terminal, but this time, the taxi drivers did not request an outrageous fare to reach the town. The flight ended there - the tourist bonus begins here.

The official name of this area is the Autonomous Dai Prefecture of Xishuangbanna. Do not be expect much of the level of its autonomy, but it is indeed populated by the Dai (and other) minority. Manduan Wat temple looks more like a Thai temple,

photo P1080710a

… and so do its frescoes

photo P1080725a

These new shops alongside the Mekong River have a distinct Thai look too.

photo P1080880a

On the left, it is the Mekong river, very far upstream from its delta. Winter is the dry season…

photo P1080882a

.. the sign with a red cross prohibits sailing under this section of the bridge… when the water is so high that you could.

photo P1080889a

Xishuangbanna is known for its eternal spring - it was 25°C on New Year's Eve, and not much warmer in summer. Jinghong is a pleasant, quiet city where people stroll peacefully, and pay attention to their looks.

photo P1080873a

See this sign on the right above, it does not advertise a beauty salon,

photo P1080869a

.. but a cosmetic surgery clinic, and you can know it all about their handling of patients, as I saw later on the right the second time I passed by.

photo P1080861-75a

No matter how far south and quiet this area is, this is still China. On this wall in a side alley of Jinghong, there were both adds for cheap housing rentals on the right, and Wanted posters from the police.

photo P1080800a

The men are suspected of murder, armed robbery, arms trafficking; the women are suspected of pimping and of woman and child trafficking, like this one:

photo P1080797a

Reference 13, search level A, reward 5 000 yuan
Chen YangLian, female, born on 15/07/1969, size 1,60m, talks with a Zhejiang accent, ID number 33032419690715742X, address : (…), suspected in December 2008 of running a prostitution place, on the run.


Child trafficking? Male infants trafficking, actually. The one-child policy has had a disastrous side effect in a society where it was essential to have sons, for agricultural labor as well as ancestor worshiping. Female infanticide and selective abortions are so common that the sex ratio is severely unbalanced. It will take more than these propaganda messages to change the minds of the Chinese in both rural and urban areas.

photo P1080650a

Give birth to a boy or a girl is the same

photo P1090837a

Give birth to a boy or a girl is just as good. Girls too transmit the posterity
See more

Verdict

China Eastern

6.8/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi6.0
Meal/catering5.0

Kunming - KMG

6.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access9.0
Services3.0
Cleanliness5.0

Jinghong - JHG

8.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access9.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

It was a short uneventful flight. The catering was minimal, but the price was very low too. No decent seating in KMG landside, not much comfort airside either, no transit services : the old KMG airport was soon to close, and it showed badly. There was not much about JHG, a tiny airport with flights to two cities only (KMG and another city in the north of Yunnan). No shuttle buses, but it was close to the city center and the taxi ride was cheap and fast.

Related

2 Comments

  • Comment 107496 by
    jetsetpanda 2294 Comments

    I appreciate these unique reports with bonuses about these far and sometimes isolated places that not too many of us will venture to see. I find them even more interesting when you contribute with your comments and personal perspectives. Sometimes when you are an aviation enthusiast, the destination takes a secondary role against the actual trip. It's nice to have a good balance of both in a FR.

    Thank you.

Login to post a comment.