11/09/2015 2:44 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

British Airways Burning Plane

In this photo taken from the view of a plane window, smoke billows out from a plane that caught fire at McCarren International Airport, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, in Las Vegas. An engine on the British Airways plane caught fire before takeoff, forcing passengers to escape on emergency slides. (Eric Hays via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

British airways passengers have been ridiculed for walking away from a burning plane, with many people holding their carry-on suitcases, handbags and other items. One passenger was even spotted carrying a pair of thongs.

The London-bound plane was evacuated on the runway in Las Vegas. All 157 passengers escaped with only 14 being treated for minor injuries.

But social media quickly erupted into harsh criticism, as photos surfaced of passengers leaving the plane, clutching their belongings. Hundreds of people used Twitter to accuse the passengers of putting other lives at risk, and valuing their possessions more than their own lives.

British Airways policy is that passengers leave hand luggage behind in the event of an emergency.

The FAA in the US (Federal Aviation Administration), which sets the rules for flying, clearly advises passengers to always leave carry-on items where you left them -- under the seat or in the overhead locker.

‘Retrieving personal items may impede the safe evacuation of passengers,’ states FAA guidance.

Lachlan Burnet, from Wendy Wu Tours, catches more than 50 planes a year. He told The Huffington Post Australia it doesn’t matter how many times people watch the flight safety instructions, in the event of an actual emergency, human behaviour is unpredictable.

“There’s a good reason why ladies are asked to remove high heels before attempting to slide down the plane’s evacuation slide, yet some of these British Airways passengers risked lives by sliding down the slide grasping luggage. If they’d damaged the slide, they’d put other passengers lives at risk,” Burnet said.

“I always keep valuables in my pockets: passport, keys, mobile, ID. That way if you’re in an emergency you can escape quickly, rest assured you have what you need to survive with your basic valuables. Your cabin bag can easily be replaced.”

According to experts, you have just 90 seconds to get off a plane once it’s on fire. FAA surveys have shown that passengers greatly underestimate how quickly a fire can spread and destroy an airplane, with many people bizarrely thinking they have about half an hour to get off a burning plane.

But the reality is that you’ve got one and a half minutes before flames burn through the plane’s fuselage and destroy everything.

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