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A Qantas Pilot Has Invented Your New Go-To Travel Accessory

A Qantas Pilot Has Invented Your New Go-To Travel Accessory

How often do you board your plane, settle in for the flight, and pull your headphones out of your bag, just to realise they’re now one big tangled knot? You’re not alone. Rogue, untamed cords are a common conundrum when travelling, but now there’s a handy and stylish alternative to that mess. It’s called the Cord Roll and it’s here to save your sanity. The design involves a leather pouch with an adjustable band running through it which can tighten to secure your cords before conveniently rolling up and locking into place.

Here’s how it works:


Invented by Afternoons With Albert (AWA) founder Shane Thompson, the Cord Roll is the minimalist solution to a common global frustration and we reckon it’ll be your new go-to travel accessory. Oh, and Shane just so happens to be a full-time Qantas pilot, so if anyone knows travel, it’s this guy. We had a chat with him about his handy invention.


What inspired the Cord Roll? Was it a problem shared by friends and other Qantas pilots?

I am obsessed with living life – seeing all there is to see and experiencing as much as I can. That’s probably why I became a pilot. Already mindful of efficiency and functionality, the Cord Roll was initially inspired by an incident at the airport.

It was never going to be a good look falling over in front of the 300 people I had just flown from Los Angeles to Sydney. As I reached into my flight bag to grab my headphones, the little white pods that bring so much joy to my ears had managed to tie themselves around my US Dollars, my Australian Dollars, a set of earplugs, my car keys and a pen. All I wanted was my headphones, but as all of the above flew out of my bag and onto the ground in one large, congealed mess, I tripped over myself and thought ‘there must be a better way!’ I immediately set about finding a solution to this problem using the skills taught to me by my grandfather Albert (hence the brand’s name).

Your Kickstarter campaign was completely funded within 11 hours – did you expect this kind of reception when you initially thought of the idea?

As Kickstarter is a worldwide platform, I expected to be able to move perhaps 100 people, and hoped desperately to be able to then leverage off that momentum to get me across the line. What I did not expect was the 350 other people turning up, pushing the campaign to over $31,000 as of last night with 24 hours to go. I knew most people had the problem, but I also knew that the product was still quite niche. So the response has been incredibly humbling and inspiring at the same time.


Tell us a little about your company Afternoons with Albert. Had you always been interested in design? 

As a child I spent Sunday afternoons with my grandfather Albert in his shed. He was an avid carpenter and tinkerer and I would pass him tools and do the sanding, eventually graduating to making stuff of my own (with his guidance) for the family home. After the work was done we would retire to the garden and eat cake and drink tea, lovingly prepared by my Nanna. After he passed, I was given all of his tools, and set them up in a shed of my own. It was a place where I would go to get lost in ‘creating’. I would dream up designs, then go make them. Seeing them come to life was amazing.

This background, coupled with my inquisitive nature means that I always have to know how something works – I am forever interested in the design of functional, utilitarian things. When I became an international pilot I was suddenly exposed to an entire world of design and broad-minded thinking. Having the globe as inspiration, and a jet to access it all has only strengthened my interest and passion in the design space. I always knew that one day I would turn my scribbles into three dimensional things so to see AWA not only come to life, but be so well received, is incredible.

How does this part-time pursuit fit in with your full-time job as a Qantas pilot?

Flying requires a lot of discipline. Things are always changing and there are always new policies and checklists to learn. Time management is critical for me – it always has been, which is why I’m so drawn to things that make sense, are efficient, and improve my daily life. Designing something in this space was incredibly natural for me. As for how it dovetails with full-time work, it’s all about time management – doing the right things at the right time – but with a heavy emphasis on taking a break (surfing and adventure travel in particular) so that I remain fresh and have enough energy to “do all the things”.


How long have you been flying planes, and how long as a pilot?

I first flew solo at the age of 16 – Mum had to drive me to the airport because I wasn’t allowed to drive yet! So from then ’til now it’s been 20 years, with 10 years at Qantas – the best job in the world. In between time I was cutting my teeth on small aeroplanes around Australia just trying to build enough hours to file my Qantas application.

I joined Qantas on the Boeing 747 and over my career I have flown to London, Frankfurt, Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, San Francisco, LA, New York, Dallas, Santiago and Argentina to name some of them.

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They are all incredible for their own reasons; the icebergs and Antarctica on the Africa route, breakfast over the mountains of Afghanistan on the London Route, the Philippine islands on the way to Hong Kong, and the deep, frozen south coast of South America is unlike anything you can imagine.

Does travel inspire you to create?

Absolutely. The world is such a massive place, and everywhere you go you meet people unlike anyone you’ve met before – each with their own take on life. Interacting and learning from different points of view gives you an incredible opportunity to add to your own views, while also challenging some assumptions that often creep in. It keeps you fresh and open-minded. Taking all of this in and expressing it through a creative exploit aligns incredibly well.


Any ideas on the next ingenious travel accessory?

Yes! I intend to expand the range of Cord Rolls into different colours and materials. After that, there will be a focus on a travel diary/passport holder type of thing, but it definitely won’t be average. Stay tuned.

(Images: Afternoons With Albert)

Afternoons With Albert’s Kickstarter finishes tonight so if you’re keen on getting a nicely discounted Cord Roll, hop to it! For more info on the Cord Roll and to hear what Shane has in store in the future, click here and live that tangle-free life.

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