Oh, the wonders of deregulation. For years, if you wanted to travel from Washington to New York's Westchester County Airport at White Plains, the price of airline fare was far higher -- for many, prohibitively higher -- than that for traveling to New York City's LaGuardia Airport, a spare 25-odd miles shorter trip.

Now the lowest regular off-peak rate to LaGuardia, unless the fares have changed in the past few minutes, is $45 via New York Air from National Airport and $40 from Dulles ($75 and $65, respectively, in peak hours). The Eastern shuttle's weekday fare, National to or from LaGuardia, is $75 at all hours.

So what has deregulation wrought? A bargain-basement $29 fare from Dulles to White Plains in off-peak hours, $69 at peak -- one heck of a differential. Plus, of course, $10 in airport bus fare from downtown Washington to Dulles. It's still a lot cheaper than the alternatives.

New York Air's fares from National to White Plains are $49 off-peak and $85 in the busy period. Rival Midway charges $85 on all such flights.

What's wanted now, given that low-cost $29 off-peak flight from Dulles? An excuse -- no, a reason -- to fly to White Plains.