I can understand H. L. Boyd's frustration {"A Flight Attendant's Complaint," letters, Aug. 1}, but I must respond to the claim that deregulation of the airlines is the root cause of the their problems. Not so, by a long shot.

Airline service has been steadily declining for more than 20 years. I have been a frequent flier (100,000 to 300,000 miles per year) since the early 1960s. I can actually remember when service was good, even excellent at times; when airplanes were clean, when the reclining seats actually worked; and even when ticket agents and flight attendants knew how to be helpful and courteous. Some who work for the airlines today are too young to remember or know about those days.

By contrast, today's planes are dirty, ill-maintained; food is poor to awful; ticket agents are not very helpful and even surly if one is to be so bold as to request something out of the ordinary, like a seat next to a traveling companion. The fight attendants are very well trained. Whenever one asks for help or asks a question, one gets a stock answer. The airlines should give the passengers the "Flight Attendants's Book of Answers." This would save them all a lot of trouble.

The problems are not caused by deregulation. The problems started long before deregulation. The airline people today seem to have lost all perspective as to why they are there.

H. L. Boyd would be amazed to know what it was like to fly 20 to 25 years ago. It was almost a pleasure to fly. Today it's the pits, and deregulation has nothing to do with it. R. D. HICKS Potomac