My family booked first-class 'apartment' seats for an 8-hour Etihad Airways flight. I can see why the private airplane rooms cost $6,000 a pop.

  • My family of four used travel points to book a first-class flight on Etihad Airways.

  • The luxurious "apartments" typically cost $6,000 a person, but we paid about $33 each.

  • It was great, from the personalized check-in process to the amazing meal and in-flight showers.

My husband is a frequent business traveler, so we're constantly trying to maximize his travel points to pay for some amazing trips for us and our two kids.

Flying has been hectic and nightmarish lately, but letting the best redemption opportunities steer our travel plans has led to more comfortable and luxurious vacations.

Last year, my husband and I planned our family of four's most epic trip yet: flying around the world on 11 different airlines across four continents over 70 days.

Booking Etihad Airways' first-class "apartments" for our flight from Abu Dhabi and London was easily the best redemption of the trip.

Here's what it was like.

We redeemed our travel points to drastically reduce the cost of our tickets.

Someone's feet resting on a couch in front of a TV.
The luxury seats usually cost $6,000 or more. Charlotte Holmes

We have lots of American Airlines points through the company's AAdvantage program, and Etihad is one of its partner airlines.

Although finding award availability on partner airlines can be challenging, the values can be tremendous. In our case, we took advantage of our family's flexible schedule to find last-minute unsold inventory, which is often released just days before the flight.

If your travel plans allow you to book (or, in our case, modify) your flights last minute, you can often find multiple seats on these "unicorn" flights.

The first-class apartment seats we booked on Etihad typically cost more than $6,000 per person. But we redeemed 62,500 AAdvantage miles (and paid $33 per person) for our flights.

We checked in early in the morning.

Two kids and an adult sitting at a check-in counter for Etihad airways.
Someone personally walked us through the check-in process when we got to the airport. Charlotte Holmes

Instead of the typical airport check-in lines, Etihad's first-class area had sit-down desks with concierge-level services.

Traveling with children can be stressful, but being in a quiet terminal with a personalized experience made it incredibly easy and enjoyable.

From there, we went to the first-class lounge.

a child sitting in a first-class airline lounge with a plate of breakfast food
Everyone got to order their own breakfast in the lounge. Charlotte Holmes

We were booked on the final flight using the "old" lounge at Zayed International Airport as Etihad was moving to a new terminal later that morning.

The employees were happy and accommodating, even if the energy seemed bittersweet as they prepared to shut off the lights behind us.

There were fewer than 10 guests in the airport lounge, and we found the service impeccable. After enjoying a fantastic made-to-order breakfast, we had coffee and a mimosa (for the adults) while relaxing before boarding.

We couldn't believe how awesome the apartments were.

child sitting in a first class apartment seat on an etihad airways flight
The apartments were super spacious. Charlotte Holmes

The single-passenger apartments on the A380 have closing doors, a three-seater couch that converts to a bed, and a comfortable recliner chair.

Since we booked only a few days in advance, we had less control over seating choices. It was a bit of a struggle at first because we didn't want to end up too far away from our kids.

Luckily, once we boarded, the flight attendants helped move the children to adjoining rooms near us. There were only two other people riding first class, so it wasn't very difficult.

The freebies and perks continued on the plane.

man sitting in first class on an airplane with a glass of champagne
My husband and I got plenty of free bubbly. Charlotte Holmes

Before departing, we each got a set of comfortable pajamas and slippers.

The adults also enjoyed another complimentary glass of Champagne, and everyone made their lunch selections from the extensive menu.

My husband and I got our own little date on the flight.

couple eating a meal together on a first-class flight
Our multicourse lunch was amazing. Charlotte Holmes

The flight attendant asked if my husband and I wanted a "date" for our in-flight meal, which involved setting a table for two in my husband's apartment.

We started with caviar and more bubbly, then my husband had the Arabic mezze and I had the burrata. Both appetizers were exceptional.

For our mains, we both had the well-prepared beef tenderloin. A cheese selection, chocolate, and more wine followed, and everything was amazing.

Lunch was the main event on this flight, but another simple meal was served about an hour before landing in London.

Once we finished lunch, our couches were converted into beds.

kids laying down in first-class on an airplane
The couches in our apartments turned into beds. Charlotte Holmes

Once lunch was over, the attendants came around and converted all of our couches so they were completely reclined.

Our kids were very excited to eat their ice cream in bed.

The flight was eight hours, and the comfortable beds allowed us to get a couple of hours of sleep.

My husband and daughter opted to try out the shower in the sky

a child and an adult in a first class area of an airplane
It was nice to be able to shower on the plane. Charlotte Holmes

Passengers in the apartments can reserve free shower times at the beginning, middle, or end of the flight.

My husband and daughter both chose to end their flight with a shower. During their 30-minute time slots, they each got five minutes of hot water — which could be paused at any time.

Overall, this was an exceptional way to redeem our points.

two adults laying down in a bed on a first class flight
I'd book these seats again in a heartbeat if we had extra points. Charlotte Holmes

The Etihad apartments are one of the most luxurious commercial flight options in the world.

Although it took planning, flexibility, and a little luck, I think this was an incredible use of our travel points.

The value of paying about $30 for a $6,000 experience alone had me sold, but every aspect of our trip was outstanding — from the check-in process to the in-flight meals.

I highly recommend it if you ever have the chance (and the points).

Read the original article on Business Insider