LM Otero/AP (LM Otero/AP)

Two of the big bugaboos for air passengers — baggage fees and change fees — turned a nice profit for U.S. airlines in the third quarter. The bottom line was $879 million for bag fees and $735 million for reservation change fees.

Airlines justify the fees by saying that charging passengers for services they use keeps overall ticket fees lower for everyone. Since they’re not included in the ticket price, however, the airlines also avoid paying higher taxes on tickets. Some passengers see the fees as a tool the airlines use to gouge them.

Airline profits have been abysmal in recent years as fuel prices have soared, but third-quarter numbers show the rise toward greater profitability continues. U.S. airlines  reported a net profit of $3.2 billion in the third quarter of this year, an increase from a profit of $1.4 billion in the third quarter of 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics  reported Monday.