Volaris is one of several Mexican airlines criss-crossing the country and while nobody would call it “luxurious,” it offers a far better experience than you’re going to find on a domestic flight on the U.S. carriers.

Mexico’s airline industry has been turbulent the past few years, with one budget airline going under in 2009, never to recover, then the shocking disappearance of Mexicana last year. Fortunately, the country seems to have now reached a point where its remaining ones are able to survive and expand. More locals are flying and prices are good.

I flew on Volaris recently from Merida to Mexico City’s Toluca airport. Originally I bought a round-trip ticket, but days of flights got canceled later—with no good explanation as to why&mdashand I had to book the return trip on Interjet. (More on that airline later.) Apart from that initial booking snafu though, the process was smooth. The site is in both English and Spanish. Three of us were each able to check one bag for free and the actual check-in process at the airport was quick and friendly, with real people, not machines. They smiled and offered us our choice of seats. In other words, the airline experience we used to experience and expect normally.

The Volaris Flight Experience

On the plane it’s coach seating only, but on nice leather seats on a wide-body jet. The seat pitch was pretty average for economy, but the unique location of the reading material tray at chest level rather than at knee level adds a couple inches. Signs indicated electrical outlets under the seat, but I didn’t have a cord with me to test that.

There’s no in-flight magazine, but attendents hand out headphones to use to watch TV in Spanish. Soon a drink cart came around with a wide variety of non-alcoholic drinks. (It was early in the morning; they may offer beer and cocktails later in the day). My daughter squealed with delight when she saw the snack they were giving us: Krispy Kreme doughnuts!

Service was cheerful and the smiling attendents weren’t too harried. So really there are few signs this is a “budget” airline and a Volaris flight is certainly nicer than a domestic flight on nearly any U.S. airline. There were some advertisements on three overhead luggage panels, but for water from the Coca-Cola company, and we all ended up with a free can of their iced tea before deplaning, so not a bad trade-off. They also had a basket of taffy candy to pick from as we walked off the plane. Nice touch.

Volaris flies to more than 20 cities in Mexico through its hub in Toluca, outside Mexico City. It also flies to multiple locations in the U.S., including San Francisco, L.A., and Chicago. Through those locations you can transfer to partner flights on Southwest. See the current destination map here.