Reduced award availability on partner airlines

In the United Airlines Mileage Plus forum there is frequent discussion on the reduced availability for awards flying on partner airlines, relative to using some other Star Alliance frequent flyer miles.  A sample of recent threads includes Air New Zealand (UA filtering NZ), Asian airlines (UA filtering NH, OZ, SQ and TG), Lufthansa (UA being stingy with LH), general (UA gets tough on manual sell for award seats), and I hate the ANA tool.  A simple search on “Starnet” brings up many more threads.

For those unfamiliar with the ANA tool, anyone can sign up to the ANA program and search for awards on all Star Alliance airlines (except Swiss) online.

This is not something as simple as a blackout for a short period, or the oft-discussed situation whereby Qantas releases awards 355 days before departure but AAdvantage can only access them 330 days prior (thus many prime awards have already gone).

Do other frequent flyer programs have a similar issue of reduced availability on partner airlines? 

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No blackouts for ALL Hilton HHonors members

This announcement brought to you by Randy and Inside Flyer.  The “no blackout on awards” rule currently offered for HHonors Diamond and HHonors Gold members is to be extended to all HHonors members from 1 February.  Already there is a heated discussion in this thread with some glass half full and glass half empty views.  What do you think will be the impact?  Is this a good move or not?  What if you are not already a HHonors member – will this encourage you to join?

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