If anyone has a right to voice a complaint about the airline industry and its delays {front page, July 19}, I do. Not the businessman who travels with every possible advantage -- from not paying for his ticket, to free drinks and headsets, priority check-in, special baggage allowances, roomy cabin seating and, last but not least, frequent-flyer mileage programs. Nor the tourist who travels for next to nothing (and dresses to match), expecting the greatest possible service and consideration.

I am a flight steward of 10 years, and I am tired of listening to complaints about delays from passengers, most of whom lobbied in one form or another for deregulation.

Deregulation has damaged the entire industry. Airline employees have lost jobs, income, homes and family unity, in addition to having to contend with disgruntled passengers. I'm also disgruntled, but has Congress done anything for airline employees?

By The Post's statistics the airlines have increased service (passenger loads) by leaps and bounds over the last 10 years -- by using bigger aircraft with larger seating capacity and more fuel efficiency and by scheduling more departures. The government has helped the present chaos only through continued deregulation -- generating fare wars and cost-cutting measures and employing fewer traffic controllers.

If Flight A leaves the gate with half the passengers on discount fares and the other half with frequent-flyer coupons, how can the airline generate revenue? It can't. Instead it asks its employees for a wage cut, offloads middle management and makes one person do the job of three.

Most travelers are very understanding of weather delays and technical problems. They, as I do, believe in "better safe than sorry" and "better late than never," and I thank them for that. But what we need is better communication between passengers and the airlines, and fewer complaints. We need solutions, not problems, of which we are only too aware.

Let's also recognize that the airlines exist to serve the public, not to hinder or harass them; that there are still a few professionals left willing to take that extra step to help make your trip or vacation a good one.

I'm one of those few. To the gentleman from Illinois in the last paragraph of The Post's article: Yes, I'm truly sorry. I certainly hope your next flight is on time and hassle free.