(WHTM) — A big decision before flying is what to pack away and what to carry with you. There’s been a lot of talk about airline cancellations and delays, but a bigger problem for many travelers this year has been lost luggage.

Celeste Small was looking forward to being a bridesmaid in a friend’s beach wedding, but when her Allegiant flight touched down, her travel companion got her luggage, but she didn’t. Inside her lost bag: her custom-made blue bridesmaid’s gown.

Small was devastated. She couldn’t stand next to the bridge at the wedding, and worse, she had to spend $400 on new clothing and makeup.

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She’s also not alone. The Department of Transportation says the 17 biggest airlines in the U.S. mishandled more than 215,000 bags in April of this year and another 231,000 in May.

“Lost luggage is a huge problem these days. Airlines are understaffed. They’re losing bags left and right,” said Carlone Teel with smartertravel.com.

Teel says to avoid the risk of lost luggage, fly with a carry-on only if possible. If you need to check a bag, she says the key is to never put any valuables or anything you need immediately upon landing into that checked suitcase. Teel also suggests packing a tracking device, such as an Apple AirTag, in your luggage.

“In some instances, travelers have been able to point out to the gate agent, ‘Hey, I see my bag, it’s on the tarmac,'” Teel said.

Allegiant finally located Small’s bag after the wedding. In a statement, a spokesperson said, “We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience,” adding that it’s rare for Allegiant to mishandle a passenger’s bag.

That appears to be true. In May, Allegiant was the best out of the 17 airlines when it came to lost luggage, mishandling one out of every 630 bags.

Bottom line: if something is essential, especially the day you arrive, put in in a carry on, so you don’t waste your money.