-- never return to a burning aircraft
Some passengers have defended their decision to grab personal items before evacuating the burning aircraft, citing passports as a major concern. One of the most high profile passengers to do so was Xu Da, president of product development for Taobao, the largest e-commerce platform in China.
"Regarding some people who criticize me for taking my luggage with me and thus hindering the rescue of other passengers, I have to clarify," wrote Xu on Weibo. "First, my family (three of us) sat in the same row, our bags were in the overhead cabin on top of our seats, we didn't stand in the aisle to take our things.
"Second, our passports, money, etc., were all in (our luggage). I would be difficult if I didn't take it with me.
"Third, everyone was looking forward in the cabin at that time, it wasn't too chaotic. No one was running behind us. My son said to us, 'we could get out' (through the hole in the aircraft, not the evacuation slide). And so we did."
But Xu's explanation attracted criticism from some netizens. One, identified as "Olivia Yi" posted: "Are you an idiot? Taking your luggage when you're escaping ... Ignorant and selfish!!! You know your seemingly justifiable action may lead to the death of the others? Please read your safety manual carefully next time! Your possessions may be important to you, but even more so are the lives of others."
Xu's comments notwithstanding, the question remains why so many defied safety protocol -- and, perhaps, common sense -- by carrying their belongings off the plane.
Cabin crew well trained
A Chinese netizen named "Happy Beyond the Cloud," who identifies himself as a commercial airline pilot, posted his own summary.
"A crew member from American Airlines complained to me that a lot of Chinese people refuse to put on safety belts, adjust their seats or close the glare shield while the plane is landing, and they put over-weighted bags overhead.
"Some planes have to broadcast in Chinese over and over again that if passengers refuse to cooperate with the crew, they will face a fine as much as $1,500. Don't these passengers know their bad behavior would kill them in emergency landing?"
The rush for belongings, even as potential disaster loomed, may raise questions about the way passengers are briefed for emergency situations.
The news from San Francisco could have been far worse, and "what if" speculation abounds.
"It's a natural reaction in the chaos of a crash, to grab your things and run, I think," said Tom Ballantyne, chief correspondent at Orient Aviation magazine.
"But clearly there can be repercussions, from high heels puncturing the slide to bags blocking exits.
"Flight crew are trained to be extremely firm with passengers, ordering them about if necessary. It's unlikely the crew were at fault. To get an operating license aircraft need to show they can be evacuated in 95 seconds. The problem here is with passengers ignoring safety instructions -- if we don't comply, you could have problems."
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has yet to comment on or determine the impact passenger behavior had on overall safety and the efficiency of the evacuation effort.
All quotes from Chinese netizens translated from Simplified Chinese by CNN.