This is for oneworld members (American, British Airways, and Iberia) looking to maintain elite status, but who can’t book 150 days out to get the cheapest Business Class fare: Consider using British Airways (BA) Avios points to upgrade to First. Forget free mileage awards because you don’t earn miles on them.
Say you’re traveling to places like Johannesburg, Dubai, or Delhi via London: These are often high-fare First Class destinations. The lowest advance-purchase Business Class fare (50 days) to Johannesburg is currently $5,867 from New York, $4,855 from Los Angeles. First Class is $3,500 more from New York and $5,700 more from Los Angeles, even more if you book inside of 50 days. But it only costs 40,500 (off-peak) to 45,000 (peak) Avios points one-way to upgrade Johannesburg from/to New York.