I really knew better. But as I haven’t had any problems with wait-listed tickets getting confirmed recently, I spaced out on the fact that wait-listed tickets that are booked online get cancelled if not confirmed at the time of charting. Having a wait-listed e-ticket means that you are considered to be traveling without a ticket, which is, of course, highly frowned upon.
The thing is that if you buy tickets at the station, they are still valid even though they are wait-listed and if you get on you can still travel though you may not have a seat and may get shuffled to sleeper class or unreserved. If it seems like there’s a good chance that a wait-listed ticket might not clear, you should buy it at the station or through the post office rather than online through IRCTC or sites like cleartrip.com. I usually only get online tickets if I’m pretty sure they will clear, and they generally do. Travel agents generally won’t book tickets that are wait-listed because if they don’t get confirmed and the ticket isn’t used, then the refunds have to be processed through them.
I had a wait-listed ticket that I booked online. I was pretty sure it would clear, but I was wrong. I was too late to go to the counter and buy a journey ticket, so I got on the train anyway, so when the TTE came around, he informed me that I didn’t have a valid ticket. The train was moving, of course, so he couldn’t throw me off. I said I would pay the penalty for traveling without a ticket. He wouldn’t go for it and told me to go to 3AC. I did that and a different TTE came around and I went through the whole thing again with him, but he wanted me to go back to the 2AC coach as he simply didn’t want to deal with it. However, there was an empty place where I was, and the lady next to me indicated I should just stay put, so I didn’t move. He tried again a bit later, but finally just decided to pretend I didn’t exist and he carefully avoided looking in my direction whenever he passed. Even so, I expected to be told to get out at the next station or the next one or the next one, but that didn’t happen, so I made it all the way. I would have gotten off to buy a ticket, but the train didn’t stop long enough anywhere to do it safely.