Airlines are releasing fewer premium cabin award seats in advance than in the past, so we’re having to work harder for those “premium” award seats.
As a result, I think a good strategy to take towards booking awards is to lock in something you’d ultimately be happy with as early as possible, and then as the departure date approaches you can monitor for better options.
For example, in the past I’ve often suggested locking in Cathay Pacific business class award seats as early as you can, and then closer to departure “upgrading” to first class, given that Cathay Pacific seems to at most make one first class award seat available in advance nowadays.
The problem with tweaking itineraries as the departure date approaches is that it can get costly. In some cases, very costly.