Hayward Star - Clear Plus Filter is hard to remove

I have a Hayward Star - Clear Plus filter C1200...
The top is very hard to take off. I would unscrew the handle and the top is so tight with the gasket it is not unusual to take me 30 minutes to wedge the top off. There is no leverage or handles, and at the bottom are the PVC piles so it's not a lot of room to stand and manuveur.
I am wondering if this is "normal" or am I not doing it right? Is there another filter I should consider that is easier to take off and put back?
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