I recently checked in for a flight on Continental Airlines through my PDA. It’s very cool that Continental has a way for people to do this.
At the end of the check-in process, I was asked whether I wanted to pick up my boarding pass at a kiosk, have it emailed to me for printing, or have it faxed to me. I chose email.
A few seconds later, I received an email message with the following headers (slightly tweaked to remove irrelevant and personal information):
Subject: Boarding pass for your flight to Boston Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2008 18:46:43 -0500 MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary="----_=_NextPart_001_01C8DB0B.8C9A1310" X-MS-Has-Attach: yes X-MS-TNEF-Correlator: <4A19CBE00801CF46A49DDEB1987DA69B09829457@nhqsexc15.nam.coair.com> Content-class: urn:content-classes:message X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft Exchange V6.5 Thread-Topic: Boarding pass for your flight to Boston Thread-Index: AcjbC4yEEWhQsv+ySECLeqxRM7dbLQ== From: "Continental Airlines, Inc."
Those of you who have worked with the nuts and bolts of how email works and who have had the misfortune to deal with Microsoft’s non-standard “improvements” to email undoubtedly cringed at the site of the acronym “TNEF” in the header above.
For those of you who have had the good luck not to have to deal with this particular Microsoft brain-damage, I will explain. “TNEF” stands for “Transport Neutral Encapsulation Format”. It is a proprietary email attachment format used by Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange Server.
There are no email clients other than Microsoft Outlook (and perhaps Outlook Express, I’m not sure) which understand how to read email messages that have TNEF attachments.
There is absolutely no reason to use TNEF attachments to send boarding passes — they can be attached to email messages perfectly fine using MIME, which is of course an Internet standard (TNEF isn’t) and is understood by pretty much every email reader on the planet (TNEF isn’t).
Continental is emailing boarding passes in a format that will be completely useless to many, many people.