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.