I remember reading an old magazine account of people lining up in Washington to view the casket of JFK. The reporter overheard this couple. The guy said to his wife, "Let's go, we're never going to get in before they close the doors.", and his wife said, "No, we should stay. It's the least we could do." There was another story of a family who was just ten feet away from the door when they closed up and said "No more, that's all."
For the people standing in line, some for twelve hours or more, I can't help but think that perhaps their salute to a man they considered great was in fact that very act of personal sacrifice. They stood in line for hours after getting off a plane from half way around the world, with very little chance of being to accomplish exactly what they set out to do. Maybe doing it was part of their mourning process and a statement to themselves and the world that what the pope stood is important enough to be worthy of such sacrifice.