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Why baggage should always be left behind in a plane crash

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Some passengers on Asiana Flight 214 took their luggage.Reuters

Here's some good news in the aftermath of  the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214: Your chances of surviving an airplane crash are surprisingly good.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, more than 95 percent of the airplane passengers involved in a crash survive.

But taking the time to grab your luggage is one way to seriously reduce your odds of getting off a plane fast, a reminder safety experts are touting after some of the survivors of the Asiana crash were seen dragging their luggage off the burning plane. 

Images from the crash landing in San Francisco International Airport showed some passengers fleeing the wreckage with luggage and iPads --even duty-free alcohol. According to witnesses, some of the carry-on luggage was large enough that it had to be stowed in the overhead bins --and was likely pulled down as the plane burned.

Airline safety expert John Goglia told Forbes that he was shocked to see a number of the passengers with suitcases.

"Of all the aircraft accidents I have investigated or am familiar with, this is the first where it appears significant numbers of people took their belongings with them in escaping."

One passenger, Jang Hyung Lee, told the New York Times, “It wasn’t really chaos; people actually took their hand carriers."

Airlines must certify that they can get passengers off a plane in 90 seconds in an emergency, and having cumbersome luggage or anything in your hands is likely to hinder passengers from getting to the exits. 

Leslie Mayo, communications coordinator for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants told the Wall Street Journal: "You have 90 seconds or less to evacuate. If people are worried about their luggage instead of the people behind them, it's a problem.'' 

Here's another thing to keep in mind: Research by aviation expert Ed Galea at the University of Greenwich shows that the passengers in a downed plane most likely to get out are those seated within five rows of an emergency exit and those in aisle seats. 

In the event of an air disaster, there are things you can do that can increase your odds of living. Grabbing luggage isn't one of them.