I know I, and others, have commented on the trials and tribulations of commuting to/from base to/from your home city, but it's always a journey no matter what when you are trying to make your flight home after a trip.
If you're lucky, you will get a trip that gets back before the last flight to your home, otherwise, you may have to figure out other ways to your final destination...(what flights do I have to take; what routes do I have to figure out; is there another airline that I can hop on..etc)
This month, my trips are scheduled to get in to base at 19:15. My (direct) flight home is at 19:35. If I was ending my flight from a non-international destination, that would be fine...I could just run to the gate. Only problem, I'm usually coming from an international destination, so I do have to clear Customs, then re-clear security before heading to my flight.
I always hope for a gate that is close to the Customs hall. This way, when all the passenger deplane, I can quickly clear Customs, then quickly re-clear Security and run to my gate. At the same token, I always hope for a departure gate that is close to where I re-clear Security.
At the beginning of the month, a friend of mine traded my trip for his, so I was able to get back a couple hours earlier...yet he was gonna come in right at the 19:15 time. When I looked at his scheduled arrival gate and the scheduled departure gate, I was amazed how easy it was going to be for him to make the flight. Both were right next door to the Customs Hall and Security, so if he came in early, he would have been fine....that was until his inbound flight landed early, and his gate was still occupied, so he sat on the tarmac for nearly 30 minutes until they found a new gate (at the opposite end of the terminal) Unfortunately, because everyone (paying passengers) was boarded, they closed the door 5 minutes early and he missed his flight home.
Well, that's been my luck a few times. There have been times where I come in to one gate, only to find out my departure is the next gate over, however I have to walk nearly a mile to clear Customs, re-clear Security, then walk back to the departure gate. (I've made it like once or twice, but with my luck, I run up to the gate and see the plane just pushing away)
Once that happens, now I have to figure out how I'm going to get home, and which airport I'm going to spend the night in Operations. If I'm lucky, I can catch an Agent to roll me over to the flight I want, and list me for the connecting flight in the morning (keeping my original check-in time in case the flight is full of other commuters) If not, then the agent will create a new listing for me, which basically puts me behind any other commuter who checked-in before the time of the listing.
If I'm lucky, the city that I chose doesn't have any pending weather or any other delays, but if it does, then I may want to look elsewhere to try to get home. It is nice to sleep in your own bed instead of sleeping in chairs in a crew room. I can usually sleep just about anywhere, but would much rather enjoy the comfort of my own bed.
Now...if only the weather would cooperate....I don't remember leaving Minneapolis in sub zero temperatures. I think I would rather enjoy my time on the beach getting over my sun burn and peeling skin!