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When trying to check in online for a Lufthansa flight I see the following warning after completing the process:

Unfortunately we can accomodate you on our waiting list only.

This is quite perplexing as the flight does not appear to be overbooked (I can purchase seats for the same flight online right now). What could be the issue?

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    The fact that you can purchase tickets doesn’t mean the flight is not overbooked. Airlines routinely overbook for revenue management reasons and ensure max capacity. – user 56513 Nov 3 '18 at 5:43
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    Personally, I'd contact Lufthansa and ask them. In fact, the best answer here would be informed by someone doing that themselves. – Lamar Latrell Nov 3 '18 at 9:56
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    Continuing to sell while full is normal, that’s how they get overbooked in the first place, trying to compensate for no-shows. Continuing to sell while overbooked and the check-in process is open seems a bit extreme, but they must truly believe they’ll have lots of no-shows (perhaps people on a delayed connecting flight). Or they’re trying to find a passenger willing to pay more than bumping another passenger will cost them ;-> Get a screenshot... – jcaron Nov 3 '18 at 10:37
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    It's also not 100% sure that you can really buy a seat until you complete the purchase and get actually a ticket. Lufthansa IT is not known for bug free software. – dunni Nov 3 '18 at 12:42
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It means that you hold a waitlisted reservation in the current booking class, not a confirmed reservation. You are not presently confirmed to be on this flight.

There is a waitlist per booking class; not per plane. So the airline might theoretically continue to sell confirmed tickets in C class while there is a waitlist for D class (the next lowest class bucket).

It sounds like your flight is overbooked in some respect you are likely to be offloaded. Continuing to sell seats in this scenario is unusual but it happens usually in the top economy bucket (Y) only.

Since you have been unable to check in I advise appearing at the airport early, and research your alternative options in advance (are you happy to fly later in the day or tomorrow? Would you insist on being re-accommodated on an alternative carrier? Know that Lufthansa may interline you onto Austrian or an airline in their group for instance but would be reluctant to put you on say American Airlines).

[Answer edited as question body did not match question title]

  • I've updated the question to make it clear what exactly happened originally. – JonathanReez Nov 4 '18 at 9:02
  • Wouldn't Lufthansa be required to upgrade OP (or some other traveller with more miles, likely) to a higher class rather than rebooking him/her if there are still free seats on the plane? – Federico Poloni Feb 18 at 13:11
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    @FedericoPoloni no, they wouldn't. They might be inclined to do it as it might cost them less than the accommodation and compensation that might be due under the EU air passenger rights legislation, but there is nothing requiring it. – phoog Feb 18 at 14:28
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In the end it was indeed a case of overbooking. As a premium economy passenger I was offered the option to downgrade to economy for 400 EUR in cash. Economy passengers were offered to fly on the next day for 600 EUR.

There were plenty volunteers for both, so I didn't lose my seat.

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