I have been fortunate enough to live in base for most of my 12 years in this industry. Living in base means more time at home and, most of the time, a higher quality of life.
At my current airline being close allows me to pick up extra flying that commuters can't easily do. When flight crews run late the airline tries to cover that crews later flights with other pilots. They will try to get pilots from home, reassign another crew or at worst delay a flight.
Sometimes they have just 3 to 4 hours notice of a flight crew running late. That might sound like plenty of time....but it's not.
Report time is 1 hour prior. That brings it down from 4 hours to 3 hours to find someone. They have specific procedures in place to fill this type of flight. They normally start calling pilots on the "make up" list in seniority order. Pilots have to add themselves to this list. I list myself on everyday off.
I am still very junior. Over 80% of the pilots in my status are SENIOR to me. I get the crumbs most of the time for my line and makeup flights. Every now and then though....I get the good stuff.
My favorite type of makeup flight is a flight out and deadhead back the same night. I've done a few where they call me at 6PM for a 10PM departure to Vegas. Once I arrive in Vegas I am assigned to dead head right back. I fly there and sleep back....home with donuts for the kids by 6:30 AM.
The flight to Vegas is just over 2 hours. Due to the pilot contract I am paid 10 1/2 hours to fly there and deadhead back. Easy money..
This past weekend I picked up two make up trips worth 21 hours, but I was on the flight deck for just 6 hours.
The first sequence was a deadhead to ATL, fly the same plane to LAX...stay the night...then deadhead home on Sunday worth 10 1/2 hours. Once I arrived in LAX I simply deadheaded right to DFW instead of staying the night. I was still fully paid 10 1/2 hours even though I didn't stay the night.
Sunday afternoon I was offered a 8:44PM departure to Austin then deadhead back the next day...again worth 10 1/2 hours. Austin is only an hour long flight. I was in the Austin hotel by 11 PM.
I debated taking the same aircraft back at 5 AM being home by 6:45 AM.....but I didn't want to be a zombie Instead I took the 6 AM flight and pulled into my garage at 7:35 AM. In 3 days I was paid 21 hours for just 2 legs where I was at the controls...only one of which I decided to fly. Good living.
Beyond that life at my airline is good. My "bet" years ago to start hitting job fairs, volunteering and networking paid off by beating my flow date by a year. That year allowed me to get based at home. If I had lost the bet...or just waited to flow I would be commuting for over a year. That would be less money, less time at home and more money spent (on commuting hotels, crash pads etc).
There are lots of perks to living in base.