There were 307 people on board the Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 that crashed and burst into flames as it landed at San Francisco International Airport last Saturday.
While two passengers died and more than 180 were injured, at least 132 escaped with minor or moderate injuries - an unexpected blessing in a crash that saw the plane practically dismantled.
Aviation-safety experts said planes have been modified using feedback from previous crashes.
Safety improvements to planes in recent years - better fire-proofing of passenger cabins and reinforcements to fuel systems - may have prevented the San Francisco accident from turning out much worse.
"It's because of what we've learnt from past accidents, and that's due to great accident- investigation techniques," said Mr Kevin Hiatt, chief executive of the Flight Safety Foundation.
He added that the people could evacuate because the plane structure remained intact, despite a hard landing and skidding down the runway.
Another major factor was the speed in which survivors got off the plane, before it started burning.
The crash in San Francisco is only the second major accident for the twin-engine, wide-bodied jet in the 18 years the model has been in service.
"The 777 has a fantastic record," said Mr Tom Haueter, who retired last year from the National Transportation Safety Board, where he was the head of aviation-accident investigations.