Meta Quest 3’s new Travel Model lets you use the headset on a plane – and stop staring at the Vision Pro wearer in the next aisle

Augmented reality is taking to the skies as Meta is rolling out an experimental Travel Mode to its Quest 2 and Quest 3 headsets. Once enabled, users can enjoy content while on a plane, a function that wasn't possible due to certain components. 

Sitting in a moving vehicle, such as a car or airplane, can confuse the internal measurement units (or IMUs, for short) and, as a result, cause the headset to have a hard time tracking your position. 

But thanks to Travel Mode, you won’t have this problem. Meta says it fine-tuned the Quest headset's “algorithms to account for the motion of an airplane,” which delivers a much more stable experience while flying. It'll also level the playing field against the Apple Vision Pro, which has offered a travel mode since launch.

You connect the Quest 2 or 3 to a plane's Wi-Fi connection and access content from an external tablet or laptop or that is stored within the Quest library. Meta recommends double-checking if an app needs an internet connection to work, as inflight Wi-Fi can be rather spotty. This means that certain video games, among other content, may play worse. 

As far as in-flight infotainment systems go, most will not be accessible, except for Lufthansa, thanks to a partnership between Meta and the German-based airline.

Quest 3's new Travel Mode

(Image credit: Meta)

New content

Meta's partnership with Lufthansa will provide unique content that is “designed to run on Quest 3 in Travel Mode.” These include interactive games like chess, meditation exercises, travel podcasts, and “virtual sightseeing previews”. That last one lets see what your destination is like right before you get there. However, this content will only be offered to people seated in Lufthansa’s Allegris Business Class Suite on select flights.

Lufthansa Chess on Travel Mode

(Image credit: Meta/Lufthansa)

If you want to try out Travel Mode, you can activate it by going to the Experimental section on your Quest headset’s Settings menu. Enable the feature, and you're ready to use it. Once activated, you can toggle Travel Mode on or off anytime in Quick Settings. Meta plans to offer Travel Mode for additional modes of transportation like trains at some point, but a specific release date has not been announced.

A company representative told us Travel Mode is available to all users globally, although it's unknown when it'll leave its experimental state and become a standard feature. We asked if there are plans to expand the Lufthansa content to other airlines and travel classes like Economy. But they have nothing to share at the moment. Meta wants to keep their pilot program with Lufthansa for the time being, however they are interested in expanding.

If you're looking for recommendations on what to play on your next flight, check out TechRadar's list of the best Quest 2 games for 2024.

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Meta is ‘working on’ its own version of Apple Vision Pro Travel Mode so you can use your Quest 3 on a plane

Meta might have been a big – perhaps even the biggest – player in the VR world for some time, but newcomer Apple is already giving it ideas for features to add to its Quest headsets, and the first of these could be the ability to use your Quest VR wearable while moving in a car or on a plane.

The reveal trailer for the Apple headset – which is finally set to launch on February 2, with Vision Pro preorders already having gone live (many Apple headsets are already being sold on eBay for extremely high prices) – showed off several use cases for the gadget. One of the examples was a person slipping the headset on while sitting in a plane seat, presumably so they could enjoy an immersive experience while traveling.

Using a VR headset while traveling – especially on a packed plane – sounds like a no-brainer. Rather than having to contend with movies displayed on a small screen on the back of the seat in front of you, you can enjoy them on a massive virtual movie theatre screen and forget that you’re crammed into coach like a sardine.

A woman wearing the Apple Vision Pro while on a plane with other passengers next to them.

(Image credit: Apple)

However, while the idea sounds simple, it’s rather tricky to pull off – as one disappointed Meta Quest 3 user discovered when they struggled to use mixed reality on a flight. On Twitter/X, user @afoxdesign posted a rather amusing clip of their Quest 3 menu floating off into the distance while trying to use the headset on a flight.

In a reply to the post, Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth (@boztank) explained that the issue is caused by the plane’s movement throwing off the headset’s IMUs (inertial motion sensors). The sensors are picking up on the plane’s movement and acceleration, so your headset thinks you’re moving about and adjusts the position of virtual objects accordingly.

Encouragingly, Bosworth added that Meta is “Working on it” with regards to making it possible to use Quest headsets while traveling in a vehicle.

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Back in May 2023 Meta showed off a demo where a Meta Quest Pro was being used in a BMW, with the car’s own sensors keeping the headset's IMUs in check. Unfortunately, this solution wouldn’t work for low-tech vehicles or commercial planes, where it might not be the safest idea to give random people direct access to the airplane’s sensors.

Option two, then, may be to introduce a simplified travel mode in which these motion sensors are turned off. Instead, the headset would use scaled-back tracking data and reference points to enable stable versions of static experiences like watching a video or playing a game through the VR Xbox Game Pass app – becoming a headset version of the Xreal Air 2 and similar wearable AR display glasses.

We’ll have to wait and see what Meta comes up with, but with Apple offering a solution to the using-a-headset-while-traveling problem, and Bosworth saying that a solution is being worked on, we’re hopeful that Quest headsets will be usable on a plane or in a car in the not too distant future.

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This new Google Flights tool will help you buy the cheapest plane tickets

As the weather warms up, people will naturally begin planning their next vacation. Google, in response, is adding four new features across several platforms on smartphones in an effort to help users find good travel deals and build an itinerary.

Arguably the most impactful addition, Google Flights is getting a new price guarantee badge to indicate the current price of a ticket is the lowest it will be for that day. That price point will be monitored “every day until departure, and if it does go down,” Google states it will pay you back the difference via Google Pay. The badge is part of a new pilot program so its reach will be limited. It’ll only show information on flights departing from the United States. 

Google Search, on the other hand, is getting a new Stories-like feature for hotel listings where you can swipe through a series of images to give you an idea of what to expect. User reviews and the location’s website will be present on-screen for more information alongside a booking button. The third Search feature adds prices for local tourist attractions and tour companies with an accompanying booking link. Famous locations in particular will have suggestions underneath the listing “for related experiences”, almost like a mini “city-wide tour”.

And finally, Google Maps will be getting a Recents tab for desktop displaying recently searched locales on the left-hand menu. You can then place everything in a new list to be saved for the future or to be shared with friends. Recents will be available “globally starting next week” with no word on a mobile version yet. That same Maps post does mention other notable travel tools, but it’s all stuff we’ve seen before like Immersive View and the AR-based Live View

Availability

The Google Search update is currently rolling out to mobile with some already online. We were able to try out the hotel Stories slideshow, but neither the flight guarantee badge nor tourist attraction prices were available at the time of this writing. Additionally, we asked Google if the company has plans to expand its badge pilot program to other countries and flights arriving in the US. This story will be updated at a later time if we hear back.

Before you go on vacation, there are a couple of other tools we recommend you become familiar with. Google recently launched extreme heat alerts to Search to let people know of upcoming heat waves and what to do to stay cool. There's also the tracking tool on Maps allowing users to share their location with friends in case they get lost.

You can learn more about this tracking feature and more by checking out TechRadar’s list of the 10 things you didn’t know Google Maps could do.

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