Another new day, another drunk passenger tries to open the aircraft door mid-flight

Rarely does a week go by without a flight being diverted because someone became “unruly”.

These incidents are often pretty innocent, involving a drunk passenger trying to harass fellow passengers. But every now and then the really insane (or drunk) take things to the next level, often with violence or by attempting to damage the plane.

Last night, United Airlines flight 223 from Washington to Las Vegas had to divert to Denver to drop off a passenger who had attempted to open the cabin door mid-flight.

Thankfully this is almost impossible to do because of door seals and the pressure difference, but that doesn’t change the fact that in his mind, he was ready to kill himself and many others on board the plane.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – insane and drunk passengers are a far greater danger than terrorists. See, you can use technology and profiling to spot a terrorist, but the seriously deranged are almost impossible to detect.

As usual, the culprit in this case was alcohol. He had been drinking before and during the flight, which once again shows how dangerous in-flight booze can be, and how important it is for cabin crew to stop serving intoxicated passengers.

The 129 passengers (minus one) continued on to Las Vegas arriving about two hours late.

Hot Vegas travel deal – 4 nights + flight from $104

Yes – Vegas may appear to be bouncing back from its biggest drop in visitors ever – but they are still hurting. How badly? How does a $104 4 night trip sound?

Packages are being offered through Travelzoo on US Airways Vacations and the $104 rate is for flights out of LA, Phoenix and San Francisco. Prices go up a bit from other places, but even $240 from Boston is a really good bargain.

OK – so at the lowest rate, you will be staying at the Imperial Palace, but at least it is on the strip, and right across from the good hotels and restaurants.

Rates are valid from February 1st till June 30th. Obviously, you’ll be paying a bit of tax but at the end of the booking process, but you’ll be looking at just $280 all-in for TWO adults from LAX, PHX or SFO, with four nights in a hotel.

You really can’t get any cheaper than that (unless you dare take a bus). Head on over to the Travelzoo deal page, and follow their instructions on how to book this deal.

Las Vegas rolls the dice on CityCenter

Talk about placing big bets.

It took a team of investors, architects, designers, art collectors, luxury buyers and acrobats to strike gold on this deal, but the gamble paid out. The city-within-a-city concept, aptly named CityCenter, debuted this week in Las Vegas and it was nothing short of extraordinary.

The “community” center in Las Vegas features five hotels/resorts inside a shopping center filled with luxury retail shops and surrounded by a fine art collection from international artists. The ARIA Resort & Casino was the CityCenter’s first official opening, met with fireworks and fanfare. The ARIA is the first of many attractions opening at CityCenter over the next few months — three hotels, one residential living facility and and retail and entertainment district will welcome guests to these lavish digs.

Here’s the lay of the land:

The 18-million-square-feet (68-acre) project was developed by MGM MIRAGE in partnership with Infinity World Development Corp and is said to be the most expensive privately funded construction project in U.S. history. It sits on the Las Vegas Strip between Frank Sinatra Drive and Las Vegas Boulevard. The $11+-billion project will open in two phases – the first phase is located between the Bellagio and Monte Carlo; the second phase will take the space between Monte Carlo and New York New York. The CityCenter is, for all intense and purposes, a small city complete with hotels, residences, shopping, dining, a fire station and its own power-plant. It’s the first ‘city’ to receive LEED® Gold certifications for its buildings by the by the U.S. Green Building Council.The focal point of the city is the 4,004-room ARIA Hotel & Resort, which opened earlier this week. The ARIA features a a spa, 16 restaurants, 10 bars, three pools (including one adults-only pool) and entertainment featuring Viva ELVIS™ by Cirque du Soleil®.

“ARIA and CityCenter reflect a combination of innovation, energy and visionary design that we believe will reshape how the world views the destination resort experience and attract visitors from around the globe as a landmark of taste and style,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM MIRAGE.

The additional hotels include:

The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas: Non-gaming hotel with 392 guestrooms and 225 residences; resort spa; 6 restaurants and the 23rd floor Sky Lobby.
Vdara: Non-gaming, smoke-free hotel featuring 1,495 suites, a full-service wellness spa, salon and fitness center, and the Sky Pool & Lounge.
Veer Towers: Two 37-story glass towers with more than 300 residences in modern, loft-like designs. Studios, one, two and three bedroom apartments and penthouses are available ranging from 500- to 3,000-square-feet.
The Harmon Hotel: Set to open in late-2010, the non-gaming hotel will have 400 guestrooms and suites, a MR CHOW restaurant, hair Salon by Frédéric Fekkai and 24/7 butler service.

In the middle of it all is Crystals, the the 500,000-square-foot retail and entertainment shopping district. Luxury brands including Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Bulgari, Carolina Herrera, and restaurant options from Wolfgang Puck, Eva Longoria Parker, and Todd English will welcome guests. Throughout the city’s public space will be fine art displays from some renowned sculpture artists, including Maya Lin, Jenny Holzer, Claes Oldenburg, Coosje Van Bruggen, Nancy Rubins, Frank Stella, Henry Moore, and Richard Long.

The MGM-MIRAGE CityCenter is nothing short of extraordinary. As Nevada comes off a year plagued with 13% unemployment and a significant drop in tourism, the CityCenter complex aims to bring back the sensationalistic, sultry decadence recently lost somewhere along the Las Vegas Strip. While it’s easy to drop a small fortune in the ‘city,’ don’t despair – after all, this is Vegas and absolutely anything can happen.

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Photo of the day 11.23.09

The last time I visited Las Vegas, I was 12 years old, and with my parents (you can imagine what a great time that was, both for my kid-saddled parents and me). Though I’ve never thought much about returning for myself, my English husband has never been, and I’ve always maintained that Vegas is one of those cities that has to be experienced to believe. I think this awesome photograph shared by justin fain in our Gadling Flickr pool proves my point.

If you’ve got some great travel shots you’d love to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day.

Las Vegas restaurant week serving up the best food, for a great cause

From August 31st till September 6th 2009, many of the finest restaurants in Las Vegas will be participating in a yearly charity event to raise money for the local food bank, Three Square.

If you happen to be in Vegas, this is your chance to eat some amazing food, and support Three Square. The list of participating restaurants is impressive, and they have all put together prix fixe menus for a tremendous value.

Even the more upscale establishments are taking part, which means you’ll be able to have a three course meal at Bradley Ogden or Fleur de Lys for just $50.09.

Check the gallery below for photos of some of the participating restaurants, with links to the review of their attached hotel. Many thanks to Oyster Hotel Reviews for providing the amazing photos.