A new era for zeppelin travel?

Do you remember reading about the Hindenburg disaster in history class? You know, that giant blimp that burst into flames in New Jersey in 1936 1937, killing all most of the passengers onboard? For the fledgling blimp tourism industry of the 1930′s, that was pretty much the end of the line.

However, according to recent news, the blimp is experiencing a resurgence as a trendy new vehicle for the upscale tourism market. Jean-Marie Massaud, a French designer and architect, has announced plans for a new 690-foot long dirigible with attached luxury hotel (obviously) called the “Manned Cloud.” According to recent reports several airlines including Air France and Emirates have expressed interest in funding the project. Believe it or not, Jean-Marie Massaud isn’t the first to propose such an idea – a tour company based in Germany has been taking passengers on blimp aerial tours for several years. Just imagine the views as you gently float among the clouds, gazing down at the spectactular scenery below…

So is the once-mighty dirigible industry poised for a comeback? Don’t book that non-refundable blimp ticket on Kayak just yet. Though traveling by blimp will surely be of interest to some (moneyed) travelers, it’s likely to remain a largely niche transportation mode for several reasons. Aside from the fact blimps top out at ground speeds around 100 MPH, they’re also quite susceptible to bad weather. Can you imagine being in a blimp during a thunderstorm? I hate turbulence on airplanes as it is. Not to mention these floating aircraft can only take on small numbers of passengers and need very large landing strips to touch down.

Oh well, so much for reopening that blimp dock on New York’s Empire State Building. But keep watching the skies – a blimp trip could very well be in your future.