Being a Flight Attendant, I have all sorts of crazy schedules for work. Some days I go in at 4am, other days I am working until 1am. Call windows, 4 day trips, out and backs... my schedule gets pretty complicated. Especially when I have to explain it to friends or loved ones...
One kind of trip that we have at my airline is called a CD for Continuous duty. CD lines (line as in doing the same trip for the whole month) go very senior at my base. Every once in a while they need a reserve to cover a CD trip when the line holder is sick, so every once in a while- I get called for a CD trip.
This is basically how a CD is set up- you work the last flight of the day from base to city and the first flight back in the morning from city to base. (example, the last CD i worked JFK to Portland Maine, and the flight back to JFK.) The reason it is called a CD is, we have rest requirements while working. The least amount of rest I can be scheduled for while at work is 8 hours. (Don't forget that those 8 hours include the time getting to and from the hotel). 8 hours rest usually is about 5 hours of sleep while we all know is not a lot. Anyways, CD's do not have that requirement because you are considered "on duty" the whole night. For my CD to Portland, I clocked in at 7:40pm and clocked out the next morning at 7:20am. Pretty nice, right?
Except for the fact that I got 4.5 hours of sleep and was dead tired the next day, it was great!
People love these trips because even though you are tired, you have the rest of the day off to catch up on sleep and do everyday things. You are still working about a 12 hour day (which in reality is normally what I work) the difference is that it is an overnight and a part of it you are sleeping.
Now here is the downfall. Working a CD out of JFK is like playing Russian Roulette. One day goes good, the next is great, and then BOOM- weather hits and there are a few delays, you sit on the runway for a few hours and by the time you land and get to the hotel, you have 1.5 hrs until you meet your crew back downstairs and head back to the airport.
The one thing you can be sure of, if your crew tells you they are working a CD on your flight- you can be sure that your crew is trying to get to the destination as quick as they can!