Wheels Up With Luggage Entrepreneur Aidan Walsh

Wheels Up With Luggage Entrepreneur Aidan Walsh

If there’s one man that knows a thing or two about being on the go, it’s Aidan Walsh.
Boss Hunting
Boss Hunting


You can’t buy more time. It doesn’t matter if you’re Bernard Arnault or Michael Jordan, time is the one universal equaliser that can’t be commodified. But maximising time is undeniably what the world’s most successful people do best.

In partnership with Uber Reserve, Wheels Up is where you’ll find some of Australia’s highest flyers and titans of industry alike pinned down, albeit for a brief moment. We want to know how they move more efficiently around the country and the globe, as for them, every second counts.

Read on to unpack the hustle behind this article’s feature – luggage brand founder Aidan Walsh – or jump ahead to dive into his quickfire insights to help you get ahead of the game when on the move.

If there’s one guy that knows a thing or two about being on the go, it’s Aidan Walsh.

Born into a family of pearl farmers near Broome, Western Australia, Walsh is always one to see a life bigger than the one he is currently living. Now, he’s the founder of an upcoming luggage and travel accoutrement company with which he shares his name. He’s also built a reputation for himself in the world of high-flyers as a cunning entrepreneur, a connector of like-minded elites, and a backer of various opportunities from hospitality to show business.

But not only is Aidan Walsh one of the busiest Aussie exports we’ve seen in a while, but he’s also the personification of the phrase – it’s not what you know, but who you know.

Like many of us, Walsh benched his university degree after realising there were early successes to be had beyond the lecture hall if you were hungry enough. And what place better to open these doors than the South of France. In his early 20’s, Walsh moved out to Monaco, where he persisted in chasing down a job in the fast-moving world of superyacht charters and brokerage.

As he bounced across the pond between the Med and the Caribbean, he became indoctrinated into the circles of serious wealth, fame and business. Eventually, with a bit of spare change from the lucrative world of yachting, Walsh decided that his next move would be on his own.

It was a stroke of luck that saw an opportunity to back a new hospitality venture fall in his lap. 26 years old at this stage, Walsh was soon flying coast to coast across the United States, spearheading bar and restaurant projects in both New York and Los Angeles.

Flying cross-country on the regular saw his airtime skyrocket, and his eyes gradually began gravitating towards the luggage choice of each person boarding the plane. He kept coming back to the same conundrum. In a market dominated by well-established big dogs at the top end, and very cheap options at the low end, surely there was an opportunity for quality luggage at a more achievable price point?

Walsh spent 6 months travelling alone around factories all across Asia to source the absolute best of each individual part for what would end up being the launch product for AIDAN The Brand – The Signature. Walsh cycled through dozens of manufacturing plants (aided by a different translator in each country) to sample literally everything.

It was less about copying all of these components into a single, integrated production line, and more about leaning on them and what they do best. And there are up to 40 of these individual parts to consider. In the case of The Signature; the hard case’s shell is German, the Hinomoto wheels are from Japan, the inner lining is from Italy, and the TSA-approved locks with zipless compression pads are from the USA. 

Design patents – such as the signature stop-lock feature – and brand trademarks took a lot of capital, but also a lot of time.

And then, suddenly, we all had more time than we knew what to do with. At the top of the list of the companies that would be unequivocally screwed by a global pandemic, luggage brands were about as high up as they got. Aidan’s ambitions were stopped in his tracks, just as thousands of units arrived in warehouses across the world for shipping.

He invested the downtime into crossing his T’s and dotting his I’s, knowing full well that when the world bounced back, AIDAN needed to be ready.

Fresh off a yacht in Port Hercules for the Monaco Grand Prix, Aidan Walsh finds himself in the hot seat of Wheels Up with his Signature Cabin in tow. The all-black hard case has a powerful presence when rolling down the aisle of QF1 or being hand-loaded onto an Executjet from Nice to London. It’s a product that’s punching above its weight, and it’s a brand that’ll undoubtedly continue its successful take-off trajectory in the coming years.

Walsh shares his home between Sydney and Los Angeles, where he still dabbles in the hospitality scene with his latest premium venue on Rodeo Drive called The Hideaway – drop in for a drink next time you’re in the City of Angels, and tell them Aidan & Boss Hunting sent you.

Give us one veteran-level flying tip to kick it off.

American Express has been a huge influence when it comes to flying. Becoming a Platinum member has incredible perks, one of those perks being access to over 1,400 airport lounges. This is included within your card membership and is one of the best-kept travel secrets because no matter which alliance you’re flying with, you’re always covered.

First person at the airport or last to board?

It really depends on whether it’s an international or domestic flight. I tend to cut it fine when it comes to domestic due to being able to check in online and therefore I seem to arrive right on 30 minutes before take-off to make the bag drop cut-off time. If it’s long-haul and I’m up the front, I like to experience the lounge and then board on time to get comfortable within my seat and indulge in the best part of every flight – the champagne and warm nuts when you finally sit down.

Check-in or carry-on?

I frequently travel with both and always feel adding a soft goods accessory such as a backpack or duffle bag helps with the smaller and more convenient items you need when flying. My go-to products are The Signature Series “M” Checked and Carry On Series “S” cases, naturally from yours truly.

Favourite airport to fly through?

I would have to say either Dubai or Singapore, both have incredible facilities and make layovers a breeze.

Oneworld or Star Alliance?

I have always been a OneWorld traveller. Once you get top-tier status, it’s bloody hard to go back from all the perks that come with it!

Preferred airport lounge?

I would have to say the Emirates First Lounge in Dubai is pretty spectacular, however, I have recently started flying through Doha and I must say, Qatar’s First Lounge is definitely right up there!

One tangible thing you can’t travel without?

It’s all about feeling fresh for me when travelling. I’ve got a small but curated bag of toiletries just in case the onboard stuff misses the mark.

Best travel app for your phone?

Without a doubt Skyscanner – it’s saved me many times. I also love Hotels Tonight and any app that helps give you background on the region you’re heading to, particularly culture, religion and language/general information guide. 

Go-to airport outfit – dress sharp or dress casual?

Always smart. Once onboard I generally switch out to more casual comfortable clothing, however arriving and disembarking from the airport or plane, you never know where you may end up or who you might meet. Always be prepared.

Favourite airline?

I’ve always been loyal to Qantas within Australia, but being based overseas now has meant I’ve gravitated towards Emirates and Qatar.

Window or aisle?

If it’s a short flight and domestic, I generally like the aisle for easy access to get up and stretch/walk around and to depart quicker once landed. If it’s a long-haul flight, locking into the window is generally preferred. 

Favourite place to go off-grid?

The Kimberly’s – Western Australia. Still to this day, I find the Kimberly’s to be Australia’s best-kept secret. Having grown up there and the lack of mobile phone reception make it my happy place when I want to get away from this crazy, busy, beautiful world we live in. 

Most memorable hotel?

Borgo Egnazia, Puglia. Absolutely incredible! Talk about a village within a village, it’s like the mythical city of Troy with modern-day amenities and touches. I’ve forever been blown away by this hotel, its aesthetic, staff and overall location, Puglia is a dream.

Do you have a bar or restaurant in the world where you feel like a local?

The Hideaway, Beverly Hills. Whenever I’m in Los Angeles, I find myself there consistently. It’s a Mexican fusion oasis hidden on one of the most recognisable streets in the world. It’s a special place for me and everyone feels like family. 

Do you try to beat lag, if so, how?

Exercise, sauna, ice bath or steam. This has always worked for me, no matter what time I arrive somewhere, I tend to have this as my first agenda to remove the toxicity of flying and what it does to your body. 

Craziest travel story?

Woke up early in the morning in LA and flew private to NYC for lunch, we then carried on to London for dinner and a party, before finishing with breakfast in the South of France the following day. I then flew back to LA that afternoon. All within 24 hours. Thank god for good friends!

Cab or Uber?

Uber all day every day. Convenience and comfort are key and being able to choose the many forms of class or transport with Uber is the real deal, especially when travelling with a lot of gear or an entourage.

What’s your Uber rating?

I’m just short of 5 full stars, although this isn’t to say I have not had to work up to this.

Best airport hack to save time?

As someone who flies through the States more than anywhere, TSA Global Entry has been the best thing I’ve ever signed up for. Pre-approved docs, dedicated security lanes, minimal scrutiny. Game changer.

When’s your next flight and where?

Puglia to Nice – St Tropez. This is where I spend the majority of my summers and is an extremely special place in my heart. I leave in a few days and will be in and out of St Tropez for the rest of the European summer. 

Wheels Up is presented in partnership with Uber Reserve. Riders moving to and from airports across Australia can schedule a trip up to 90 days in advance from their destination airport, with flight tracking technology to help ensure a ride is ready and waiting, whether their flight is early, on time or delayed.

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