How anyone can possibly argue that DL SM is remotely competitive with any other FFP for redemptions? So my SM balance just crossed a threshold (160k) which used to be enough for two TATL redemptinos, half in J and half in Y. I felt that was a good value. Now I look and can't find anything at all tolerable, a year ahead, on many routes. I'm not even considering originating in anything other than an AF gateway city (LAX, SFO, IAH etc.). Those of you who've been around a while understand that I know very well what to expect (like, 635k from PHL to FCO, not all of which was in J). I am also aware of the various strategems that can be used to help find those needles in the haystack. But the frictions in the redemption system are so monumental now that it's becoming almost impossible to find any LOW level seat, in any cabin, on DL or any partner, across the Atlantic. The recent disappearance of the AF O bucket from EF is another nail in the coffin. Without that, even the most savvy flyers are going to be forced through the DL portal. It's designed rather cleverly to vastly increase the iterations needed to find the LOW level inventory and therefore prevent them being found and redeemed. Three years ago, my statements on this matter were greeted with a chorus of derision. I don't think so any more. This like the fuel-dumping scenario. Which until two years ago was laughably easy, and now has become a serious challenge even for the Jedi. I'd say that the postings on the DL board at FT about how to locate LOW tier J awards are now counterproductive. DL knows how to close the spigot by blanking the necessary information - that's exactly how DL.COM is designed as we almost all know by now. In my case the SM are very incidental - after all, I think I've spent only about $800 last year to reach GM "status" by means of FD and misfiled fares, and even that's too much to reach DL Medallion. I don't feel the value. Any value. Meantime, the cornucopia of fabulous Star redemptions available at UA is wondrous in comparison. The sense of value means that I don't object to paying a little more for the UA and partner flights knowing how valuable those miles are. It's great. It also means if I don't get upgraded - and I agree, FCM is manifesting here at UA as well - then I still feel value. Not so with SM. I suppose this was all hidden while I was with NW WP, because a. the core program was so good that the distinct limitations of the SkyTeam system were tolerable and b. the tremendously effective alliance with CO hid even some of those limitations (e.g. very sparse NW service to TUS). DL will very soon reach a point, if it hasn't already, where the SM currency has become so worthless and even annoying to redeem, that it cannot incentivize any form of marginal purchasing e.g. AmEx spend, or buy-up into higher fare buckets, or purchase of higher-than-market cost tickets to remain on DL.