Ban the Brats?

stroller 150x150 Ban the Brats?Here’s a question the BBB gets asked a lot: Can a business refuse my money? Maybe a bookstore has asked you not to shop there because you’ve been repeatedly abusive to the staff. Maybe a contractor has heard that you have a reputation for nonpayment. Perhaps a restaurant is upset because you never, ever tip. 

As far as we know, (and remember, the BBB does not interpret the law), a business can provide service to whomever they want. Or don’t want.

It’s not unheard of for a business to trespass customers who are repeatedly offensive. When it’s a screaming, ranting, 54-year-old, there’s not much controversy. But what if the disruptive customer is say…four years old? Is that fair? Is it ethical?

The Brat Bans Begin

It’s been in the headlines this summer and on the Dr. Phil show. Restaurants, movie theatres, libraries and airlines are starting to ask parents with out-of-control children to leave—or simply not allow them in the first place. One mother with a noisy baby was ejected from a flight to Oklahoma City despite assurances from other passengers that they weren’t bothered.

And the owner of McDain’s restaurant in Pittsburgh went on national TV this week to inform Dr. Phil that his ban on kids younger than six was supported by a majority of his customers. Malaysia Airlines and Whole Foods are among other businesses that recently enacted young child bans—in the case of the airline, kids are only prohibited in the first-class section. And cruise ships commonly have areas where kids under the age of 16 are not allowed.

“Brat bans could well be the next frontier in destination and leisure-product marketing,” wrote Robert Klara for AdWeek this July, following up with supporting evidence from, a website that lists vacation spots for parents traveling without children.

The question is not really whether businesses “can” do this: If they can’t, there may be lawsuits. The question is should they do this?

  • Is it fair to treat all children as if they will behave badly? What does this teach kids?
  • Should it be the prerogative of a business owner to pick and choose their customers? Or do customers have the right to go anywhere they like and behave however they want?
  • Should we just all learn to be more tolerant, or does inaction reward bad behavior on the part of non-reactive parents?
  • Bars and hospitals in this country have historically banned young children from visiting for safety reasons. What is the difference between a safety ban and a brat ban?

What do you think? Have you encountered young child bans in your local area?

Sources for this article include: and


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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.